The Nobel Peace Prize awarded today to Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege honors their work on behalf of women victimized amid violent conflict and will strengthen that effort worldwide. Murad, from Iraq’s Yazidi minority, survived abduction, abuse and rape by extremists of the Islamic State group and has campaigned internationally on behalf of victims of war. Mukwege, a physician from the Democratic Republic of Congo has treated thousands of victims of sexual violence amid the brutal warfare in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad
Denis Mukwege (European Parliament/Flickr) and Nadia Murad (Martin Schulz/Flickr)

“This Nobel Peace Prize validates the courageous work of Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege in the face of brutality toward women; it validates the principle for which they stand—that peace and stability in our world requires full respect for women as half of humanity’s population,” said USIP President Nancy Lindborg.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s choice of Murad and Mukwege “underscores that sexual violence in war is a crime against humanity and must be prevented,” said Kathleen Kuehnast, director of gender policy and strategy at USIP. “Murad’s and Mukwege’s courageous work highlights that the impacts of sexual violence can last a lifetime and affect an entire society for generations. The tenacity of Nadia Murad—transforming herself from victim of horrific violence to a powerful voice of social change—is not less than miraculous. Likewise, Dr. Mukwege has led with great humility and conviction in showing the importance of not only helping to heal each victim but to help restore each victim’s dignity.”

“We have just marked the tenth anniversary of the U.N. Security Council’s call for all nations to prevent sexual violence and end impunity for its perpetrators. In the past 10 years, we have made progress, but we have long way to go to ensure that justice is served.” Kuehnast said.

“Today’s award will have particular resonance in African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan,” said USIP’s director for Africa programs, Susan Stigant. “Sexual and gender-based violence remains pervasive in these conflicts, despite commitments by the African Union to the elevate the role of women in improving security, and courageous action by grassroots civic leaders.”

In halting or preventing wars, research and experience have shown that the role of women is central—a principle that is at the center of USIP’s work, and that increasingly has been supported by international bodies and the U.S. government. The Institute supports scholarship and research on ways to better ensure respect for women, among others, in conflicts. It trains local groups in countries facing violent conflict to strengthen the roles of women, as well as youth, minorities, religious communities and other parts of civil society, in resolving conflicts.

Resources related to USIP’s work on gender

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