Wahpeton First Nation welcomes peacemaker and international women's advocate from Congo
- EFN Staff | December 09, 2019
A well-known peacemaker and international women’s advocate from Congo recently made a visit at an Indigenous community to speak on empowering women. The Wahpeton Dakota Nation welcomed Neema Namadamu who attended a women’s only event at Wahpeton Dakota Nation gymnasium.
The theme of the event “Women Empowering Women” and the discussion focused on female leadership, gender equality and developing sister communities between Namadamu’s home community of Maman Shujaa (Hero Women) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the community of Wahpeton. The event is part of a week-long tour planned by Wahpeton First Nation and Wahpeton Developments.
“We are beyond excited to have Neema come visit us all the way from her home community in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa,” said Robert Fincati, CEO of Wahpeton Developments in a media release. “After months of planning and fundraising, she is here today, and we are very proud to be host to such a visionary leader and passionate advocate for women.”
Namadamu is the founder and executive director of Hero Women Rising, a non-profit organization running numerous women’s empowerment programs in the DRC with the aim of encouraging and enabling women to create a different future for themselves, their daughters, their families, and their communities.
Born in the Congo, Namadamu contracted polio when she was two years old. In a region known for being violently oppressive to women, and especially women with disabilities, she overcame numerous obstacles to graduate from university and serve her government at a high level. After a violent attack on her then twenty-five-year-old daughter, Namadamu founded Hero Women Rising, whose focus is to change the paradigm for women in the Congo, especially the Indigenous and women with disabilities.
Today, she is an award-winning and internationally-recognized peacemaker, speaker and passionate advocate for women around the world.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our First Nation to work together with another community across the globe to empower women,” stated Lois Standing of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation and member of the planning committee. “Neema is an incredible leader and an inspirational role model. Today is just the beginning. The women of Wahpeton Dakota Nation are excited to start this conversation on how we can support each other as sister communities from across the globe.”
The Four Cups is an organization that served as a strategic advisor during the planning process.
“We are proud support for this initiative,” said Faith Green, founder and visionary of The Four Cups. “Part of our company vision is to develop an ecosystem of leaders who are working diligently to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to grow and win. Neema is a perfect example of this – a visionary who is a passionate leader who is making an impact. Supporting women leadership is vital to the future.”
This event is part of Wahpeton Dakota Nation’s commitment to ongoing learning and education for its citizens, where community members are provided with opportunities to develop their skills, achieve financial independence, and contribute positively to the community and world.
“This is an exciting day for our First Nation,” said Wahpeton Chief John Waditaka. “Our community is a good fit for this initiative. The Wahpeton Dakota Nation is traditionally a matriarchal society, and when making decisions, we regularly seek input from both male and female citizens. I would like to thank our planning committee, and the women of our First Nation, for their vision and their efforts in making this happen, and I’d like to extend a big welcome to Neema for traveling all the way here and sharing her story.”
During her seven-day visit, Namadamu will be engaged in several activities, including meeting with the women in Wahpeton Dakota Nation, speaking at Carlton High School, a speaking engagement with the Prince Albert Grand Council Women’s commission, meeting with the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Center and more.
“It was a long journey to get here, but I am very happy to be here,” said Namadamu. “There are things that are very different here than in my home country, but there are also things that are the same. I’ve met some very strong women at Wahpeton Dakota Nation, women who are bold leaders in their community, and I’m looking forward to working with them to continue our vision of lifting up women across the globe. I’m honored to be here and to call Wahpeton my sister community.”