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As a mason, Jacqueline has built up a reputation for herself and become a leader through the sterotypes she has broken. Photo: AFEM-SK

DRC: Jacqueline has broken several stereotypes

Jacqueline from the DRC is the first female mason in her village. She learnt about gender equality after participating in workshops organized by Diakonia’s partner organization AFEM-SK.


Forced from school early

Jacqueline Barhalibirhu Byamungu was forced to leave school early due to lack of support from home. She has two children, five and two years old and she lives with her husband in the village of Nyangezi. As a livelihood, she used to farm at a small plot of land owned by her husband.

AFEM's workshop gave her perspective

One day, Jacqueline attended a workshop held by Diakonia's partner organization AFEM South Kivu, where she learned about women's rights and gender equality, and that women should have the same opportunity as men. AFEM in South Kivu is highly recognized as having brought change, as the organization supports women to exert their rights to information and to freedom of expression. Jacqueline therefore realized that this applied to her as well.

AFEM-SK (Association des Femmes des Médias du Sud-Kivu) works for the promotion of gender equality by sensitizing women to enhance self-reliance in their radio programs listeners’ clubs: NCE. They have been working with women in the media since 2009.

Breaking several stereotypes

When she had finished the workshop, Jacqueline participated in vocational training courses for self employment. And today, she works as a mason.

"After acquiring knowledge on equality, I realized the level of inequality in my community and I chose to learn masonry to the amazement of all members of the community. They were amazed because masonry was labeled as a business reserved for men only," Jacqueline says.

When she had become a mason, Jacqueline once again amazed her community by buying a plot of land of her own. The traditional gender stereotype otherwise forbids women to have access to land tenure. Jacqueline was however stubborn, trusting what she had been taught at the AFEM workshop.

Providing her children with education

Now that she is earning an income, Jacqueline has registered her daughter and son in a good school in the province, to make sure that they get the education that she never got. Her project is also to demolish her current house in the slum which is built with mud and to build a decent house with lasting materials.

People appreciate her work

"I have become competitive and I am able to win a lot of construction projects in markets where many male masons fail, because many people appreciate my work."

The community members talk about Jacqueline with esteem and respect. They state that "If Jacquie is in your yard, everything goes well; the work is always well done.”