Tom O'Bryan gained a First Class BA in International Relations at Exeter in 2013, and was awarded a Dean of School Commendation for Outstanding Academic Performance.

Exeter alumnus in Foreign Affairs: Breaking Congo’s Glass Ceiling

Exeter and CSSIS alumnus Tom O’Bryan (2013) has published an article with Foreign Affairs magazine titled "Breaking Congo's Glass Ceiling: Gender Politics in the DRC."

Tom’s article profiles the activists, advocates and political candidates leading the fight for increased gender equality in Congolese politics, as the country once again approaches a time of great uncertainty and instability.

Tom spent the past two years in the region, working as an advisor to Ben Affleck’s nonprofit, the Eastern Congo Initiative. He coordinated national and international advocacy initiatives, promoting increased diplomatic engagement with Congo, home to the deadliest conflict since World War II. He previously worked in the Western Sahara, Tunisia and in Washington, DC.

Tom is now a UK Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University. He is studying for a Masters of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and is as a researcher at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Tom gained a First Class BA in International Relations at Exeter in 2013, and was awarded a Dean of School Commendation for Outstanding Academic Performance. Working with Professor Claire Dunlop and Professor Claudio Radaelli, he co-authored the book chapter “Narrating the ‘Arab Spring’" (Palgrave, 2014).

Article excerpt

On a sweltering Sunday afternoon in Goma, one of the largest and most troubled cities in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chantal Faida emerged beaming from the tin-roofed office of the National Elections Commission. It was May 2015, and she had just registered as a candidate in Congo’s upcoming provincial elections to contest the seat of Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

"Today we write the first chapter of a new beginning in our province’s history,” Faida said, standing in front of a pool of reporters. “It would be my great honor to represent you, to be your voice for hope.” Cameras flashed and reporters jostled for a sound bite, pushing their microphones impossibly close to her mouth as she spoke.

At just 27, Faida has lived through natural disasters and wars. She survived the First and Second Congo Wars, which began in the late 1990s and stretched into the early 2000s. In 2002, when she was only 13, Mt. Nyiragongo eruptedand sent lava flowing into Goma, where it destroyed more than 15 percent of the city. Still, Faida graduated from high school with top grades and went on to study economics at one of Goma’s best colleges. She was determined to build a more prosperous and stable future for her community.

Read the complete article on Foreign Affairs’ website.

Date: 15 February 2016

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