First Lady of the Democratic Republic of Congo - H.E. Madam Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi

H.E. Madame Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi

September 16, 2021
The Great Hall

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H.E. Madam Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, is the 1st Lady of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This event is in collaboration with the SUU Office of International Affairs, and SUU is most honored to welcome this special guest to kick off our season!

Born March 9, 1967, in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), H.E. Madam Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi is married and the mother of 5 children. She obtained her diploma (BAC) in the DRC and continued her studies in Belgium where she subsequently began a career as a nurse.

She is involved in the empowerment of Congolese women and girls. She runs her own foundation named “Fondation Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi (FDNT)”, created in May 2019. Appointed UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador in May 2019, for the fight against gender-based violence and the empowerment of women, she was also named “World Champion for the Prevention of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in charge of this matter, in December 2019.


Southern Utah University's first APEX event for fall semester welcomed Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, the First Lady of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on September 16th. Stephen Allen, International Admissions Counselor, introduced Tshisekedi and her Foundation which focuses "on areas related to health, education, and empowering women." Tshisekedi began her career in nursing and now hopes to spread her wisdom which she gained through her position and not only change the DRC but also the world.

In a video which played right before Tshisekedi spoke, she declared that she has the chance to speak out for those who "whisper in silence" (Tshisekedi). Speak out is what she did. The Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi Foundation (DNT) was founded in 2019 benefiting her country and especially the women who don't have the same opportunities she does.

The four components of DNT are health, education, the fight against all forms of violence towards women, and economic power of women. "I will always be at the side of women, and girls, in order to give them an opportunity to fully contribute to the real development of our country, the DRC" (Tshisekedi).

There are currently 171 DNT scholarship recipients with five of those enrolled at SUU. This being her first time to Utah and in Cedar City, Tshisekedi confirmed that she has, "No doubt students will be integrated in a good condition."

When asked her favorite moment of being the First Lady, Tshisekedi responded, "Realization of the excellence of women." Everyone needs to "raise awareness to women that they can achieve big dreams."

Tshisekedi offered some additional advice for the students, "Don't forget to focus and remember what brought you here."

In her closing remarks Tshisekedi said what gives her hope and inspiration is that "Tomorrow will be better than today." Her last message to the audience was "Together we are much stronger."

By: Christina Schweiss


Audio Transcript