Programs and Events
Local Environmentalist is 2012 Woman of Courage
April 5, 2012
This year, the U.S. Embassy’s “Woman of Courage” Awards were a “green” event. On March 30, in the Salon Congo of the Grand Hotel, Ambassador James F. Entwistle and his wife, Pamela Schmoll, awarded the 2012 prize to Sulia Jeannette Bosingizi, a local environmentalist and head of the organization Logos Premier.
In the presence of the city of Kinshasa’s burgermeisters, national ministers, and nearly 500 of Kinshasa’s elite, the Ambassador spoke of Ms. Bosingizi’s acts of courage, and what made her more than worthy of this year’s prize.
In 2005, Ms. Bosingizi was approached by the Hotel de Ville of Kinshasa to organize street-sweeping crews, with one catch: she was to use local street children, known as shegués. “Mme. Bosingizi, late one night in 2005 … approached a group of shegué with a proposal: If you help me to sweep these streets, I will provide you with a meal for the night,” Ambassador Entwistle said in his remarks. “She treated the kids as fellow human beings. She looked them in the eyes; she held their hand; and she spoke to them with a mother’s voice.”
In 2006, Ms. Bosingizi fought to organize a recycling campaign in east Kinshasa, working with Belgian Technical Cooperation and the Bralima Foundation to created 250 public recycling bins from recycled plastic. “She would often hear news reports of violence in the region—targeted against outsiders, those not born in Bas Congo,” the Ambassador said of Bosingizi, a native of South Kivu province. “Not only was it a great feat to personally send ten tons of plastic to Kinshasa, but to travel alone, to a potentially hostile environment … that was truly courage.”
At the evening’s end, the Provincial Minister of Environment, Communication and Gender, Therese Olenga Kalonda, gave an elegy to the woman she works with to this day: “There is a popular saying that one should not hide a lamp beneath the bed … one should hold them up so that they can cast light throughout the house… that is certainly the case with Ms. Bosingizi tonight.”
Each year, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa awards its “Woman of Courage” prize to a Congolese woman leader, after an extensive search and nomination process. This year, 1523 applications were distributed to the public, with over 700 returned, including submissions from 7 of the country’s 11 provinces. In 2010, the prize went to Bernadette Muongo, a civil society leader in North Kivu who created a center for abused women. In 2011, Efinole Yelika won the second Women of Courage Award. A childhood victim of polio, she overcame obstacles to create a home for the handicapped in Kinshasa.
Partners for this year’s award included the Ministry of Culture and Arts, the Ministry of Gender, UN Women, CAFCO, Nefertiti Magazine, UNESCO, Olive Lembe Kabila’s Initiative Plus, the Federation of Congolese Enterprises, the International Women’s Club of Kinshasa, the Regional Research and Documentation Center for Women, and the Grand Hotel.