Engage women in the fight against Ebola

Women, the main victims of Ebola, play a key role in the fight against the epidemic.

Mariama Sire Kaba (translated from French by Matt Khalkhali)
Cette jeune militante des droits des femmes s’est engagée aux côtés de l’UNICEF pour que les femmes ne soient plus les premières victimes de la malade à virus Ebola.
15 May 2019

« Close to 60% of Ebola victims are women », keeps repeating Espérance Kazi during her meetings with Beni women, epicenter of the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This young women’s rights activist is committed to UNICEF so that women are no longer the main victims of the Ebola virus disease.

Each week, the young Espérance organises educational roundtable talks with housewives, street vendors, unmarried uneducated mothers, deplaced women and widows to talk about the Ebola virus disease.  These encounters are also an opportunity to find solutions to allow them to engage in the fight and to no longer be victims.


That day, the sky was covered with clouds and a drizzle had refreshed the atmosphere. Lively discussions in Swahili and personal stories made it seem a reality of which one thinks of seldom : it is diffiicult for them to combine tradition with the fight against Ebola.

« Girls must only know how to take care of the house, watch children and look after the family », explains the participants. In the province of North-Kivu, close to 4 women out of 10 are illiterate. They generally take care of cleaning work and have reduced access to radios, televisions and newspapers. Less informed, the women are more vulnerable to the Ebola virus disease.

During the meetings and dialogue sessions, women can express themselves about the disease, share their concerns but also exorcise their fears. In the course of discussions, they understand that they have an important role to play in the fight against Ebola. « This broadens information to all women », explains Espérance. Since the start of the epidemic, more than 13 million people have received critical information on the disease thanks to the engagement of people like Espérance.

« By reporting a case, we do not abandon our families but choose to save our lives, those of our families and of our communities », concludes a participant who confesses that her initial instinct would have been to not report a suspicious case.

Espérance is convinced that it is by giving information and women’s tools that it will be possible to stop the spreading of the disease. Especially vulnerable to the disease, they are also the best vectors of information at the heart of their family and community.

UNICEF’s response to the Ebola epidemic is supported by the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility, the European Commission – European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the Vaccine Alliance, the United States Agency for International Development, the Central Emergency Response Fund and the Government of Japan. UNICEF is also supported by the German Committee for UNICEF.