The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two activists working to end sexual violence—here’s what you should know about them

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize was officially awarded today, October 5th. And the prize was given to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, two activists fighting sexual violence—specifically its use as a tool of war.

According to The New York Times, 25-year-old Murad was abducted and enslaved by the Islamic State in Iraq, and she has used her experience to speak out against the genocide of her people, an Iraqi religious minority called the Yazidi. CNN notes that thousands of other Yazidi women and girls have been subjected to sex trafficking. Murad has worked alongside human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to request that the U.N. take action against the genocide of her people. In 2016, at the age of 23, she became the first-ever U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

In an interview with, Murad said that she hopes her award “will help bring justice for those women who suffered from sexual violence.”

Meanwhile, Mukwege is a gynecological surgeon in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where for 20 years he has treated women who have been raped or experienced sexual violence. Dr. Mukwege told CNN that he was performing surgery when he learned he won, and he dedicated his award to survivors.

"For almost 20 years I have witnessed war crimes committed against women, girls and even baby girls not only in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also in many other countries," he said. "To the survivors from all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and refusing to remain indifferent. The world refuses to sit idly in the face of your suffering."

In a statement, the Norwegian Nobel Committee noted that both winners had made important strides in working to end the abuse of women.

"Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have both put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims," the committee's statement read.

Both Murad and Mukwege are doing vital work for survivors, and we’re so glad they’re being recognized. This gives us hope that the world is paying attention, and that change is on the horizon.

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