Vital Voices is saddened to learn about the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Marie Noelle Nyangwile Musuna – mother, accomplished lawyer and Judicial Council Advisor of the Democratic Republic of Congo. An established and widely respected woman leader in civil society, Marie Noelle represented the best of her country: unwavering perseverance, poised beauty and strength of character.
She was President of the Congolese Women Lawyers Association, and also served as Vice President-Africa for the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers. Through her advocacy efforts with various local and international organizations, she helped women to understand their rights, defend themselves, and take part in the development of their communities. She also conducted extensive research on women in the DRC, served as a consultant to UNIFEM and to the U.N. Mission in DRC, and participated in a UN working group on the status of women.
In 2008, Vital Voices awarded Marie Noelle a grant from the Leadership and Advocacy Fund, generously supported by the Gates Foundation. Relying on her exceptional advocacy skills, she brought together women and men from different religions, classes, and regions to work collaboratively on reforming the DRC’s family code to strengthen protections for women and children and to eliminate all discriminatory provisions. The awareness campaign reached thousands – she succeeded not only in sensitizing people at schools, hospitals, and markets, but also ministers, UN officials and elected representatives.
The following year she joined Vital Voices in Cape Town, South Africa, for ‘Leveling the Playing Field,’ an advocacy initiative aimed at examining women’s economic rights. Then, in 2010, Marie Noelle proudly represented the DRC at the launch of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women in Washington, D.C. She was an active, engaged participant, who effortlessly made genuine connections across cultures and countries.
At Vital Voices, we will miss Marie Noelle’s energy and enthusiasm, and will cherish the joy and passion for women that she generously shared with our network. Marie Noelle would have applauded the courage and strength of those women leaders in the DRC who stand ready to sustain the important, yet sadly unfinished, agenda of women’s rights that she passionately devoted herself to. Vital Voices applauds them on her behalf.
We join her colleagues and family in mourning the untimely loss of one of the DRC’s most accomplished leaders.