Women in the Lead

Dear Friends,

Right now we are at a turning point in human history. Women’s voices are being heard, and they are reverberating across the globe. At this moment, it is a perfect time to look to our sister species as an example of female empowerment in action. Bonobo society is matriarchal, matrilineal, and remarkably peaceful and egalitarian. At BCI, we believe that promoting female leadership, female enterprise, and female agency benefits everyone. We’re excited to share the story of one partner we’re especially proud of: Josephine Mpanga.

Josephine Mpanga, leading the way for women's empowerment in Djolu
Josephine Mpanga, leading the way for women’s
empowerment in Djolu

In the aftermath of the devastating Congo War, many women found themselves destitute, widowed, and with no means to support their families. Josephine Mpanga saw that the best way to move forward was for women to collaborate and build their future together. She founded a co-op called Réseau des Femmes pour le Développement de Djolu, or Women’s Network for the Development of Djolu (REFED). Their first project was couture, making clothes to sell at market. We were delighted to be one of their first supporters, providing training and non-electric sewing machines. Our next collaborative venture is soapmaking.

Josephine’s leadership has been instrumental in changing the lives of the women of Djolu, and her influence doesn’t stop there. She has helped organize other women’s groups in the region, and she’s also a recent graduate from Djolu Technical College, an institution co-founded by BCI. We have no doubt that she will continue to use her expertise, her experience, and her enthusiasm to create new opportunities for Congolese women and for women around the world.

Please help us support Josephine’s efforts, and the efforts of other Congolese women who are making a difference. Let’s work together to make our world more bonobo-like, built on cooperation, compassion, and female power. Contribute today to create a better tomorrow!

Thank you for your support!


Sally Jewell Coxe