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05. December 2018

Nobel Prize for Peace 2018: Encouragement for all defenders of women’s rights

Press release: Cologne, 6 December 2018. “The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 is sending an important signal in the fight against sexualised wartime violence”, states Monika Hauser, as founder of the women’s rights organisation medica mondiale, in advance of the award ceremony on December 10 in Oslo. “Women and girls have to be protected from violence, and the perpetrators need to be pursued and prosecuted. I think this is the message of the award to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, and I congratulate them both,” says Monika Hauser. In 2008 the gynaecologist and activist’s commitment won her the Right Livelihood Award – also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. Ten years later, this year’s Nobel Prize award shows how worldwide awareness raising has made the issue a subject for discussion even in conservative circles.

As the jury stated when they announced their decision, a peaceful world cannot be achieved unless we guarantee the fundamental rights and security of women in times of both peace and war. Monika Hauser explains that this award will serve as an encouragement to everyone working to bring an end to sexualised wartime violence and to empower survivors – including medica mondiale. Recognition such as this helps to direct the attention of the public and politicians towards the ongoing breaches of human rights. It is an opportunity to push forward with demands for social and structural changes.

Rape in war is a war crime

In 2014, Nadia Murad was captured during a raid on her home village in Iraq, and subsequently subjected to sexual slavery, rape and torture. She speaks openly about these war crimes and calls for an end to the injustices, and in 2016 was appointed UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. Almost 20 years ago, the doctor Denis Mukwege co-founded Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which specialises in treating women and girls who have survived sexualised wartime violence.

Some of the projects which medica mondiale is funding and supporting are located in the award winners’ countries. In northern Iraq the organisation is working together with local women’s groups and the administrative agencies of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Dohuk. Project work includes training courses for healthcare staff on how to adopt a trauma-sensitive approach in psycho-social work, gynaecological counselling, sewing courses and self-help groups. In the DR Congo, medica mondiale has been working with several women’s organisations since 2004. For survivors of sexualised violence, these are often the only points of contact. They offer medical, legal and psychosocial assistance, open up income-generating opportunities, document crimes committed against women and girls, and help to prevent further violence with public awareness work.


25 years against violence against women and girls in war and crisis areas

medica mondiale has been committed to supporting women and girls in war zones and crisis areas for 25 years. The organisation sees itself as an advocate for the rights and interests of women who have survived sexualised wartime violence. In addition to medical, psychosocial and legal assistance, medica mondiale also offers programmes to help women secure their own livelihood and it carries out political human rights work. In 2008 Monika Hauser, the founder of the organisation, was awarded the Right Livelihood Award – also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”.