08.03.2019. Decision-makers, professionally engaged, devoted to their family: women working for IFO celebrate International Women’s Day with a half-day of paid leave, in recognition of their value as committed employees and mothers.
Madame Jeanne Victoria Louzolo, managing the public fountains of Ngombé village
Welcome to Ngombé, in the North of the Republic of Congo, where women see their professional responsibility at INTERHOLCO’s production site, IFO, as a means to position themselves differently in Congolese society: not just cooking or looking after their children, but also actively supporting their nears-and-dears and larger family as well, thanks to a regular and fair income.
`I did not even plan to work for IFO at the beginning,’ says Diane Tchikaya, Secretary to the Director General. `When I decided to travel up North, it was to follow my husband, who, originally from Pointe-Noire, had already spent 5 years alone in Ngombé whilst working for IFO. Now that I too work for IFO, I can continue to support my husband and help my children, too,’ Madame Diane says. ‘We have 7 children; 2 study in Senegal and Tunisia, one in Côte d’Ivoire. My oldest daughter now works in France.’
As an equal opportunities employer, IFO currently hires more than 30 women, including from indigenous communities. The posts are varied, from cartographer to mid-wife; from cleaning services to technical roles at the sawmill. Christine Mbongo Loukengue, for instance, has been working in IFO's mechanical services since March 2012. A mother of two, she benefits from flexible working hours, which allows her to provide for her children, who are still young.
Madame Diane Tchikaya (left) and Madame Stella Diance Nzegui (right) wearing the traditional `pagne`received from IFO
`Working at IFO means that, even if I am single, I can stand on my own two feet and still help my family,` underlines Jeanne Victoria Louzolo, working at IFO since 2014 to manage the water fountains in the village of Ngombé. `On International Women’s Day we gather together and exchange views and ideas. For me, the Day is the symbol of our solidarity, of our love for one another, as women.’
Mr. Pascal Desmedt, IFO`s DG, showing the gift received from IFO's women employees during the celebration
`I honour my own independence through my job,` affirms Stella Diance Nzegui, who joined IFO in 2006 and now works on a project for biodiversity protection (PROGEPP), carried out by the Government of Congo together with WCS and IFO. `And I can take decisions, just like men do. That’s exactly what we celebrate on 8 March: inequality reduction between men and women.`
Family photo of IFO's women employees wearing the traditional wax fabric (pagne) received from IFO
For the second year in a row, IFO encouraged women employees to prepare a celebration at IFO in the evening of 8 March. Each employee received a traditional African wax cotton fabric, called `pagne`. This is a prized gift whose colours and patterns convey messages to society. For 2019, the women at IFO chose a pattern of dense leaves with several shades of green: a woman herself, the forest is the mother providing for our forest company employees.
Since 1962, INTERHOLCO is serving an international clientele with high-quality hardwood – Made in Africa.
With annual sales of about EUR 65 Mio., the Swiss-based INTERHOLCO is one of the leading international suppliers of sustainable hardwood, from sourcing and processing to high quality hardwood products: logs, lumber, laminated scantlings and more. In addition to three processing sawmills, large kiln facilities, a lamination and planing mill, INTERHOLCO manages an FSC-certified 1.1 million ha forest concession in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), employing a diverse dedicated global workforce of about 1’000 people. INTERHOLCO serves over 50 countries world-wide, from importers to industrial end-users.
INTERHOLCO is committed to making sustainably harvested timber from Africa the norm, as a renewable material that improves people’s livelihoods in the region and protects the forest and its precious wildlife. INTERHOLCO supports the Fair&Precious initiative in its goal to increase market recognition of sustainable hardwood from Africa based on technical, environmental and sustainability considerations.
Communications contact INTERHOLCO
Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
INTERHOLCO AG, Schutzengelstr. 36, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82