Nobel Peace Prize Winners: Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

Education , Leadership , Safety and Violence

(TW: sexual assault, rape)

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad (pictured above), won for their efforts to end the use of sexual abuse as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Around the world, one in three women experience sexual or domestic violence in their lifetime, but these numbers are exacerbated in areas where war and armed conflict run rampant. Sexual abuse is frequently used as a deliberate military strategy during war. Collapse of the rule of law ultimately makes rape and sexual violence a by-product of war. According to the Nobel Committee, the two laureates, “helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that perpetrators can be held accountable to their actions.”

About the Winners:

Denis Mukwege is a gynecologist and surgeon who has treated thousands of women and girls affected by rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nicknamed, “the man who mends women,” Denis founded Panzi Hospital twenty years ago to specialize in the care of women who have been gang-raped. “Denis Mukwege is the foremost, most unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Nadia Murad was abducted and taken as a sex slave for ISIS militants. Following her escape from ISIS, she became a global human rights activist. At the age of 23, she became UN Goodwill Ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking. Nadia founded Nadia’s Initiative, an organization aimed at increasing advocacy for women and minorities. She has won other awards including the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize and the Sakharov Prize.

What Does Girl Up Do?

Girl Up works with the United Nations to make sure girls and women feel safe and free from violence. Even in the absence of war and armed conflict, women face significant threats to their safety every day. Strengthening judicial systems ensures warlords and other perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, which helps reduce the incidence of war and armed conflicts. Moreover, strengthening judicial systems ensures that perpetrators of using sexual violence as a military strategy are punished. The recognition of Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad’s work against sexual violence reminds the world of the importance of creating safe communities for women and girls.