News Brief

Congolese Gynaecologist Denis Mukwege Wins Joint Nobel Peace Prize

This year's prize has been awarded to two anti-rape activists in areas of conflict.

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Congolese gynecologist and surgeon Denis Mukwege and Iraqi anti-rape activist and leader of the campaign to free the Yazidi people Nadia Murad for their work to end rape as a tool of warfare.

Doctor Mukwege, 63, has treated about 30,000 victims of rape throughout his decades-long career, BBC reports. He founded the Panzi Hospital in the city of Bukavu 20 years ago, reports CNN. Mukwege has developed groundbreaking treatments to help women who have sustained injuries caused by acts of sexual violence during war.

He was named African of the Year in 2009.


Mukwege is an outspoken critic of the DRC's current administration. Following the announcement, the government released a statement congratulating the doctor despite past "disagreements."

"We have had differences with [him] every time that he tried to politicise his work which however is important from a humanitarian standpoint," government spokesperson Lambert Mende told AFP. "But now, we are satisfied with the Nobel Academy's recognition of the work of a compatriot."

At 25, Nadia Murad is the second youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and the 17th women in history. She's been awarded for her courageous anti-trafficking activism, after being held as a sex slave for three months at the hands of Islamic Sate (IS) militants in 2014. Murad escaped that same year and became the face of the Yazidi movement and a dedicated campaigner for victims of sexual assault. She was named the UN's first goodwill ambassador for survivors of human trafficking in 2016, reports BBC Africa.

The two activists received the lauded Norwegian-based award from a pool of 331 nominees.

"Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee during the announcement on Friday.

"Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims.Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others," she added. "Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions."

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Image supplied by Candice Chirwa.

In Conversation with Candice Chirwa: 'Menstruation is More than Just Bleeding for Seven Days.'

South African activist Candice Chirwa, the 'Minister of Menstruation', speaks to us about what a period-positive world looks like, the challenges menstruators face even in 2020 and her important advocacy work with QRATE.

It's 2020, and naturally, tremendous advancements have been made across various spheres of society. From the prospect of self-driving cars and drones delivering medicines to rural areas to comparatively progressive politics and historic "firsts" for many disenfranchised groups, we've certainly come a long way. However, in the midst of all that progress, there is still one issue which continues to lag behind considerably and consistently, particularly in less developed countries: menstruation.

Candice Chirwa is a young Black woman on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narratives and taboos that still shroud the issue of menstruation. The 24-year-old South African activist, who is endearingly known as the "Minister of Menstruation" on social media, wants young girls and women to not only accept but embrace their bodies fully in a society that insists on speaking in hushed tones about a perfectly normal biological process. Both Chirwa's research and advocacy work with the UN and her award-winning NGO, QRATE, has focused on dispelling common myths about menstruating, removing the shame and stigma around it and giving menstruators the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their world through impactful workshops.

And when Chirwa isn't collaborating with Lil-Lets, one of the biggest sanitary product brands on the continent, or co-authoring a bad-ass book titled Perils of Patriarchy, she's dominating the TEDx stage and making sure that her audience, no matter how diverse or varied, leaves the room feeling comfortable and courageous enough to boldly shout the word "vagina".

We caught up with Chirwa to discuss what initially compelled her to become a "period-positive" activist, her continued advocacy work with QRATE and what kind of world she imagines for menstruators.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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