Denis Mukwege

Honorary Doctorate

Denis Mukwege

Honorary Doctorate of Laws

The recipient of many human rights awards, Dr. Denis Mukwege was initially inspired to become a doctor while visiting patients alongside his father, a Pentecostal pastor. He later chose to specialize in gynecology and obstetrics after observing that the inadequate medical care women received often led to complications in child delivery. His focus shifted in 1998 when he co-founded the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo city of Bukavu, just as war in the region was breaking out. It was a war that would see rape widely used as what Dr. Mukwege once described to a New York Times columnist as “an act of terrorism.”

The Panzi hospital is now known as a refuge sought by tens of thousands of women physically damaged by sexual violence. While he uses his medical skills to repair the bodies of victims, Dr. Mukwege is also working to repair the social and political issues behind the assaults.

In 2012, Dr. Mukwege delivered a speech at the United Nations, calling on the international community to take action to stop the conflict in the DRC. Despite threats to his family’s safety, he continues to work in  Bukavu, helping patients victimized by rape. Forced to live under security at the hospital, Dr. Mukwege also continues to spread his message that women in the DRC deserve peace and protection, and that “we must respond to violence with love.”

The numerous awards Dr. Mukwege has received include the UN Human Rights Prize, the Daily Trust African of the Year award, the Clinton Global Citizen Award, and the Olof Palme Prize. His is also often named as a frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize.

For his role as an international voice for victims of sexual violence, for his dedication to improving the lives and status of women, and for his commitment to bringing peace to his country, The University of Winnipeg is honoured to award Dr. Denis Mukwege with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.