Joëlle Munyerenkana Shabani, Democratic Republic of the Congo

About Joëlle

Joëlle Munyerenkana Shabani is a Congolese defense lawyer at the South Kivu Bar and currently works as a Program Assistant at DR Congo Bridges to Justice, where she plays a leadership role in providing free legal assistance to vulnerable and detained women. Although she specializes in judicial assistance for children, Joëlle generally handles cases involving indigent individuals in conflict with the law. Throughout her career, she has gained extensive experience working with human rights as a consultant, researcher, trainer, and conference facilitator. Joëlle regularly participates in human rights defenders’ training and national and international advocacy.

The Challenge

Indigenous women and girls in the DRC often lack legal representation due to the distance between jurisdictions, the remote locations of crimes, and a shortage of lawyers willing to take pro bono cases.

The Innovation: “À chaque femme en détention une avocate pour assistance”

Joëlle’s project focused on training women lawyers to provide legal representation for indigenous women and girls. She established a national chapter of nine women lawyers committed to offering pro bono legal aid to individuals in conflict with the law. By the end of the project, chapter-affiliated members had represented 86 women and girls. The newly established network allowed women lawyers in the DRC to unite around a common cause, creating a platform for mutual exchange and learning that empowered them in their roles as defenders of women’s rights.