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

Related News

USIP’s Aly Verjee Awarded the 2019 Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize

Thursday, August 8, 2019

News Type: Announcement

The U.S. Institute of Peace congratulates our Aly Verjee on being awarded the 2019 Oslo Forum Peacewriter Prize, which recognizes “bold and innovative responses to today’s peacemaking challenges,” for his essay on addressing the increasing challenges of cease-fire monitoring.

William and Pascale Warda Awarded Inaugural International Religious Freedom Award

William and Pascale Warda Awarded Inaugural International Religious Freedom Award

Thursday, July 18, 2019

News Type: Announcement

USIP congratulates our longtime partners, Pascale and William Warda, for being awarded the State Department’s inaugural International Religious Freedom Award. They have been deeply involved in advocating for the rights of religious minorities, particularly Christians, in northern Iraq in the face of regional instability and the ISIS occupation.


In Memoriam: Ambassador John W. McDonald

In Memoriam: Ambassador John W. McDonald

Thursday, May 30, 2019

News Type: Announcement

USIP mourns the passing of Ambassador John McDonald, a longtime American diplomat and international development and peacebuilding expert. A nominee for the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, McDonald founded the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) and helped lead efforts to establish the Pakistan-India Kartarpur Peace Corridor.

View All News