July 07, 2014
09:45 AM EDT
In Kinshasa, Dr. Biden met with women entrepreneurs who are creating their own successful small businesses. The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world and remains near the bottom of many important economic indicators, so entrepreneurs – especially women entrepreneurs – play a vital role in overcoming these challenges and diversifying the DRC’s economy for the benefit of its people.
Among the successful female entrepreneurs that Dr. Biden met, Therese Izay Kirongoz’s story represents the important role women play in advancing and strengthening the global economy.
Therese worked in restaurants while attending engineering school and spent three years developing traffic-directing robots. Now, in addition to running a chain of local restaurants, Therese manufactures and sells the robots and hopes to distribute her product to neighboring countries.
“Like Therese, the steep challenges that all of you have overcome are truly remarkable. And your success – and your leadership – is instrumental in empowering more Congolese women to be successful,” Dr. Biden told the women entrepreneurs. “But we must do more to ensure that all women have the economic security and opportunities they deserve and their families need.”
Dr. Biden then stopped by the Parliament to meet with women parliamentarians and aspiring political leaders, where they discussed efforts to politically empower women in the DRC. Following the 2011 national elections in the DRC, women occupied less than 10 percent of parliamentary seats.
The meeting was an opportunity to highlight the challenges and opportunities for women in political life, and women’s role in making political parties more representative and responsive to their constituencies.
“One purpose of our visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo is to learn about the difficulties that women face as well as to let you know that we support you,” Dr. Biden said.
On Saturday, Dr. Biden traveled across the DRC to visit Bukavu, a war-torn city located in the eastern part of country.
Bukavu is home to Panzi Hospital, which has cared for more than 19,000 victims of sexual and gender-based violence, a widespread problem in the DRC affecting millions of Congolese women and children.
Dr. Biden met with survivors, heard their stories, and saw firsthand the response services provided to them. She also met with U.S. government partners who are working to prevent and respond to this dire situation.
“Thanks to your extraordinary efforts to help prevent sexual violence from occurring, fight against impunity, and provide essential services to survivors…you’re not only improving the lives of thousands of Congolese women and families, but you’re helping to change the story of Africa,” Dr. Biden said.
Dr. Biden then traveled across the city to the UNICEF Boys Reintegration Center. Over many years of conflict, a large number of children have been recruited into the armed forces and other armed groups. Dr. Biden met with some of the children who have been removed from armed groups and are now housed in this temporary residential center, where they are safe and learn vocational skills that meet the demands of local employers.
Dr. Jill Biden Arrives in Sierra Leone
Dr. Jill Biden has arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, her final stop on a three-country visit to Africa.
In Sierra Leone, Dr. Biden will highlight how her trip to Africa has focused on the importance of girls’ education and women’s participation in government, the economy, and civil society in accelerating economic development, improving health and educational outcomes, strengthening democratic governance, and fostering peace and security.
On Sunday, Dr. Biden will attend a reception hosted by Second Lady Khadija Sam Sumana as part of Sierra Leone’s recognition of the significance of this visit.
On Monday, Dr. Biden will meet with President Ernest Bai Koroma at the State House to discuss women’s empowerment; Sierra Leone’s participation in the Equal Futures Partnership and its efforts to promote women’s political and economic empowerment; the country’s work to crack down on corruption; and a range of other issues facing Sierra Leone today. Upon arrival at the State House, Dr. Biden will observe a female quarter guard ceremony and then walk with President Koroma to the Cotton Tree, a historic national landmark and enduring image of Freetown.
Later, Dr. Biden will visit St. Joseph’s Secondary School where she will deliver remarks on the empowerment of women and girls through education and highlight important moments from her three-country tour of Africa.
Afterwards, Dr. Biden will travel to the U.S. Embassy to meet with staff and families. While at the Embassy, she will meet with human trafficking survivors to discuss how local organizations and government officials are working to prevent trafficking and provide assistance to survivors.
Dr. Biden will then depart Sierra Leone en route Washington, DC.
President Obama Has Lunch with Teachers
Published on Jul 7, 2014
President Obama, joined by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, hosts a group of teachers for lunch at the White House, July 7, 2014.