On a recent visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Concern's Emily Bradley met Germaine Masika – an inspirational woman whose talent and ambition has spurred her through the ranks of Concern and led her progress from data entry assistant to human resources manager.
Germaine Masika’s first contract with Concern was for five days in a data entry position. Nine years later, Germaine is Concern’s HR Manager, covering the whole of DRC, and is among the longest serving female staff with Concern in the country.
Germaine had never heard of Concern until her father told her about an ad he saw, posted outside Concern’s office in Goma looking for a data entry assistant in the Finance Department. Germaine was in university at the time studying Administration and Financial Management, but decided to apply for this position to gain some work experience.
Against the odds
Germaine is the eldest of eight children and she was the first woman within her extended family to work in paid employment. In DRC, the odds are stacked against women and girls from a young age; DRC is the sixth most unequal country in the world in terms of gender equality. The average length of schooling for girls is four years, compared to eight years for men. Traditional discriminatory gender norms and attitudes are deeply entrenched, and Gender Based Violence (GBV) is commonplace.
Germaine’s ambition was evident from the outset. After her initial five-day contract, Germaine sought to do an internship with Concern, even though there was no internship scheme at the time, but she was determined to gain more experience. Shortly afterwards, Germaine applied for a position as Cashier in Concern’s field office in Masisi. Germaine recalls how the support of her father was key in enabling her to go to work in Masisi - in DRC there is considerable social pressure on women to marry and start child-rearing at a young age but her father was keen for her to have the opportunity to work.
Germaine recalls that the biggest challenges were being away from her family and being the only female member on the team. While she was initially shy, Germaine learned the ropes quickly and found that her efforts to constantly reinforce procedures gained her respect from the team. She said that her favourite thing about working in Masisi was;
Waking up very early in the morning, travelling for hours to reach some of the most remote camps for displaced people and spending time with the beneficiaries there – it was very rewarding.
Proud to work for Concern
Germaine remembers well receiving that first pay check for the five day’s work which she used to celebrate graduating from university with her family and friends.
Germaine’s favourite thing about her position as HR Manager is rolling out training with staff. The last one she conducted was on Concern’s policies, notably our protection policy for programme participants Policy and our Anti-Fraud Policy in Kinshasa. She particularly liked the discussions and debates during these training sessions and believes that they lead to stronger accountability and better quality in our programmes. Germaine’s favourite thing about Concern is the organisations commitment to DRC’s most vulnerable communities.
“While other agencies come and go, Concern is here for the long haul to work with the poorest. That makes me proud to work with Concern”, says Germaine.
Germaine is committed to addressing issues of inequality, and in her role, her goal is to improve the gender balance of our staff team in DRC.
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