Posted on 27 September 2011.
Dr Denis Mukwege, Medical Director of Panzi Hospital, is one of the recipients of the fifth annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards, which honors individuals who have made an outstanding impact in philantrophy, government, civil society and the corporate sector.
- My team and I gotten a lot of international attention for the work we do at Panzi Hospital. Now I don’t think there is anyone who can say they don’t know about the situation in DR Congo, says Dr Denis Mukwege.
- So I hope this will lead to some action that can make a change for the women in Congo.
Dr Mukwege received the award on a ceremony in New York, where he gave the speech for the former President of the US, Bill Clinton, among others.
Read dr Denis Mukwege’s speech
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr President.
I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious award, although I know I am receiving it for doing things
that I, and my staff, quite simply should not have to do.
In the last 15 years, we have received tens of thousands of women at the Panzi Hospital in Eastern
Congo who are survivors of sexual violence, or have severe gynecological conditions. We repair and
restore these women to the best of our abilities.
The women who come to us, damaged by rape or with complications from delivering their babies at
home in their villages or in the bush, should first get primary health care in their communities. We are
one of the richest countries when it comes to natural resources but our population is one of the world’s
poorest. These women should have access to basic and professional health care close to where they live.
But they don’t — yet.
However, with national and international political will and responsibility, we hope to see further
changes, and a more secure Democratic Republic of Congo.
Like all of us, Congolese women deserve to live in peace and security. None of them should end up at
our hospital because of the indifference of policymakers and others with the tools and power to make a
Sexual violence is strategic warfare, aimed at destroying the very fabric of the Congolese family and
society. As a doctor, it is frustrating to treat consequences of indifference, and see that nothing is being
done to remove the root causes of the problem. It is a complex situation but I think you know it is not
impossible to find a solution.
But it’s a solution we must all be part of. I am convinced that what we do and what we don’t do matters.
You who are here tonight have the competence, resources, knowledge, and power to help solve the
problems we face in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This can be anything from helping to get
sufficient equipment for the work of Panzi Hospital, to lobbying for policy change, both nationally and
So let us seek solutions together and strive to do the right thing.
Women of Congo do not need pity, they need action. And I hope that all of you here tonight will be part
of making that action a reality.
Thank you! “