Last Thursday, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and international Postcode Lotteries ambassador dr. Denis Mukwege visited the Nationale Postcode Lotterij in Amsterdam. The world-renowned doctor, and noted human rights activist Mukwege travels through Europe, to talk about his new book: 'The Power of Women'.
Photo: Denis Mukwege and Esther Dingemans, co director of the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation (credit: Roy Beusker)
At the heart of Dr. Mukwege’s message are the voices of the many women he and his team have treated over the years: women who have been horribly raped as a weapon of war. In his biography, Mukwege uses individual cases to reassure all survivors that, even if their psychological wounds may never fully heal, they can recover and thrive with the right care and support.
After studying medicine, Mukwege set up the Panzi hospital in 1999. Since then, he and his team have treated more than 60,000 women: victims of sexual assault and rape. Not only by taking care of the most terrible wounds, but also by guiding them mentally and making them resilient again. Proud even. “Women leave the hospital not as victim but as survivor. Some of them become even activists who talk to leaders from all over the world about their experiences. They claim to be heard, to speak up and tell their story.”
The message of his book is to value the power of women. Mukwege, who we interviewed earlier this year, advocates learning from women's resilience, strength, and power. He also hopes to inspire men to speak out and join the struggle, rather than leaving women to fight the battle alone.
In his book Mukwege refers to himself as a feminist. “Being and working closely with many feminists, we are fighting for the same goal. I address men as well, encouraging and guiding them to become allies in the fight against sexual abuse, in war and in peace,” he told during his visit to the Postcode Lottery in Amsterdam.
Traveling is quite an experience for Mukwege since Covid made it impossible for 1.5 years to leave the site of his Panzi hospital in Congo where he is also living for his own safety. Ten years ago he barely survived an attack on his life. Dutch media are highly interested in bringing Mukwege’s story. Newspaper interviews will appear in the coming days, and this Sunday at 12 am he will attend Buitenhof, a Dutch political interview programme.
At the Postcode Lottery office, he said he was flattered by the public attention for his story and his book, but he emphasized that reading his book and listening to his words isn’t enough. A lot of crimes remain unpunished to this day, and the world should act. “Sexual violence against women, whether as a weapon of war or in the domestic sphere, must be banned everywhere. Education, regulation and legislation is the only way to achieve peace, equality and security. We are moving in small steps…but we are going forward. And with all the media attention and the support of the Postcode Lottery, things will get better.”
About the book
The Power of Women, a Doctor’s Story of Hope and Healing,
by Dr. Denis Mukwege.
In his biography, Mukwege reflects on his life and the powerful
women who shaped it.
More about this book at the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation.