Women play an important role in the Catholic Church. In 2021, some of them, religious and lay people, have particularly distinguished themselves in various fights enlightened by their Catholic faith. La Croix Africa offers a selection.
La Croix Africa’s selection.
1-. Sister Josée Ngalula
Josée Ngalula, 61, made headlines by becoming on September 29, 2021, the first African to join the International Theological Commission. Sister Josée Ngalula is a Congolese religious of the Congregation of Saint-André, professor of theology for 25 years, author of several books and one of the greatest theologians on the African continent. A great figure who works in discretion and austerity has contributed, for many years, to advancing the Church in Africa. In an interview given on the 25 November to La Croix on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, she spoke about the issue of sexual abuse in Africa. It also provides pastoral support for these victims of sexual abuse in the structures of the Catholic Church.
2-. Aissa Doumara
Aïssa Doumara, 50, was, on March 8, 2019, the first winner of the Simone Veil Prize for gender equality. A victim, at the age of 15, of a forced marriage, this Cameroonian Catholic laywoman for twenty years has been fighting violence through the Association against violence against women. In particular, she helps victims of Boko Haram at the Center Vie de Femmes in Maroua, in the far north of Cameroon.
3-. Sister Veronica Openibo
Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus, founded in the 19th century in England, Veronica Openibo marked, in February 2019, the summit for the protection of minors in the Vatican. In front of the Pope and the presidents of Episcopal Conferences around the world, this Nigerian nun, who began to warn about sexual abuse almost 20 years ago, gave a strong speech pointing to clericalism and the need for transparency in the Church. .
4-. Maryse Quashie
Catholic and academic, Maryse Quashie is a lecturer in education sciences at the University of Lomé, Togo. She is also one of the spokespersons of the Movement Forces Vives “Espérance pour le Togo” – a civil society organization engaged in civic actions for freedom and justice – of which she is a founding member. Maryse is also a founding member of the Togolese Human Rights League, a pioneering organization in Togo under a one-party regime until 1989. In August 1991, she took part in the National Conference of which she was member of the presidium. In 2021, she is part of the national team set up in Togo to lead the work for the Synod 2023.
5-. Sister Marie Stella Kouak
In Dapaong, in northern Togo, for nearly 20 years, Sister Marie-Stella Kouak, a nurse, in her fifties, has devoted her life to serving people infected or affected by the AIDS virus. This Togolese religious of the order of the Sœurs hospitalières du Sacré-Cœur de Jésus saw her commitment as a call. "I felt the call to leave the world and dedicate myself to the poorest, she confided in 2019. I encountered Christ in the sick and in suffering families."
6-. Marie Angelique Savané
Marie Angélique Savané, 74, is a Senegalese politician. A sociologist, she is also one of the pioneers of the feminist movement in West Africa. She worked in several UN structures and founded the African review Family and Development (1974-1978). Married to the Senegalese politician Landing Savané since 1968, she is very involved in the Catholic Church.
7-. Sister Noélie Djimadoumbaye
This Chadian is a geographer and theologian; she specializes in moral theology in a doctoral cycle at the Center Sèvres, Jesuit Faculties of Philosophy and Theology, in Paris, with research on ecology. She is also a member of the Jesuit Research and Social Action Center in Saint-Denis (France). In 2021, she published a book entitled Lumière dans notre nuit, a collection of messages from the episcopate from 1965 to 2020.
8-. Sister Angèle Bipendu
At 49, this Congolese nun and doctor from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Redeemer was, in 2020, on the front line in the fight against the coronavirus in Italy, in the Bergamo region then particularly affected by the first wave of Covid-19. She particularly distinguished herself by the personal visits she made daily to provide psychological and spiritual support and medical aid to infected people.
9-. Sister Christiane Baka
Christiane Baka is a nun from the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Peace in Ivory Coast. Doctor of philosophy from the Catholic Institute of Paris and the University of Poitiers, holder of a master's degree in theology, she is a teacher-researcher and dean of the faculty of philosophy of the Catholic University of West Africa in Abidjan. In 2021, she was appointed among the members of the contact team set up at the national level in Ivory Coast, to steer the work of the Synod on synodality.
10-. Francine Aissi-Houangni
At 53, Francine Aïssi, wife Houangni, is an influential businesswoman in Benin but also a devout Catholic. Since June 2017, she has been the first female vice-president of the parish council of Saint Michel de Cotonou, the largest parish in Benin. In 2016, in partnership with the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Cotonou, she created the Amoris Laetitia Family Listening and Orientation Center, named after the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis. The structure aims to promote the family by women, education through the granting of scholarships to underprivileged children and the promotion of social, human and religious values.