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written by Judith Osongo Yanga (français)

March is a special month dedicated to women worldwide. The Congolese woman and The United Methodist Church, in particular, are pleased with March 8 each year.

The situation of the woman in our country, especially the eastern part of the Congo, presents some challenges. The country’s situation exposes the eastern Congo woman, bringing us many cases of rape of women and children in this part of the country.

“Coordination of women through “Women Arise” calls us to hear the voice of the Congolese woman say, ‘Arise from stigma!’ Women thought the symbol should ask other women to stand up again,” said Mrs. Furaha Tshoso, president of the women’s annual conference in the eastern Congo.

“Unique as one body in Christ, women are inspired to embrace this symbol that calls women to stand up. Today before you is Esther who gets up, and asks women to get up again. Esther is an African woman who is bold and determined.  With her hands up, Esther wants to bring change to humanity in the situation of the woman. Esther calls on every woman to stand up and change our world through communication and access, to combat stigmatization of women,” says Rde. Hélène Kombe, United Methodist Women Chaplain – East Congo UMC.

“Esther” is the symbol of “Women Arise” a campaign to help women arise from despair and isolation.

According to the report of the Provincial Division of Gender, more than 5,000 casualties were recorded in 2017 in the Maniema province among women and children. In the face of this situation, The United Methodist Church, in collaboration with its partners, reflects on the problem of stigma experienced by women victims of sexual violence.

“I am a Congolese woman from The United Methodist Church – North Episcopal Region of Katanga. I am happy to see the fruit of our design as a woman. Here, Esther is Women Arise’s symbol, presented on March 08, 2018 – International Women’s Day. Today, seeing Esther’s picture is a great joy for me. The name Esther inspires a lot, this name means a woman of determination” said Rev. Dr. Betty Musau.

Esther is a woman capable of communicating and talking to women by encouraging them to get out of despair and claiming their identity given by God which no one can remove, indicates Dr. Betty Musau.

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity for women of The United Methodist Church to face a major challenge in our community that stigmatizes women. We are pleased with the initiative of this woman, Esther, who calls on all women to announce their identity. This is our biggest challenge for the women of the Congo who are victims of rape,” so says the Rev. Mwayuma Veronica, Coordinator of Women of the United Methodist Church – East Congo.

All women, everywhere, are invited to stand with Esther to fight stigma and arise for the transformation of the world.

Note: We thank all the Women Arise team that contributed to the vision of Esther, especially to our artist designer Mr. Radjabu who has visualized our imagination in this drawing, and Firdaus Kharas who brought her into color.  Purple was chosen for the meaning of transformation, and red for determination. Judith Osongo Yanga

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