Bonobos live in peace and harmony within a matriarchal society. Inspired by the bonobos’ example of honoring and respecting females, BCI promotes programs that benefit women and help support the community at large. A growing body of research shows that societies prosper when women are empowered, educated, and economically engaged. BCI and partners are working toward a brighter future in the Congo through these Women’s Initiatives.
BCI is providing organizational and management training to women, who often have not had the same educational opportunities as men. Beatrice Mpako, the first female graduate of our Djolu Technical College is now the Assistant Administrator for the entire Boende district, which is comprised of Djolu and other territories. Veronique Lokasola was another outstanding example of female leadership. BCI and Conservation International supported her post-secondary education at Tayna College of Conservation Biology (TCCB), where she was a talented student and graduated at the top of her class. After graduation, she became a conservationist in Kokolopori. Among her many achievements was the expansion of the reserve. She worked with local residents to include several valuable ecosystems that had not been within the original Kolopori boundaries. Sadly, Veronique passed away at the age of 29 due to a medical condition. To honor her memory, BCI created the Veronique Lilima Lokasola Scholarship Fund. This scholarship supports the education of talented Congolese students with a desire to study conservation biology, health science, or rural sciences at the college or university level.
Women’s Business Enterprises
In addition to providing educational opportunities, BCI and partners believe deeply in supporting women’s business enterprises. We have helped women earn income through a variety of projects, including soap-making and bringing salted fish to market. The Congolese are renowned for their beautiful fabrics, and garment making is another valuable economic resource. BCI has provided sewing machines and training to the Women’s Association of Kokolopori and the Association of Rural Women of Djolu Territory, and we are currently seeking support to expand these programs throughout the Bonobo Peace Forest communities.