MATHILDE MUHINDO

© 2004 Elodie PERRIOT Secours Catholique

2009 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism

Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.

As director of the Olame Centre, a women's rights NGO, and a former member of Congolese parliament, Mathilde Muhindo empowers women to fight against discrimination and horrific sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo's recent bloody conflicts.

To address the crisis-tens of thousands of women have suffered sexual violence in eastern Congo in just the last few years-she also founded a parliamentary committee to investigate rape as a weapon of war.

In partnership with Human Rights Watch and other groups, Muhindo has pressed the European Union, the United States, and others to address ongoing atrocities in eastern Congo. She led a coalition of local women's organizations that advocated successfully for a comprehensive law on sexual violence. Muhindo has faced intimidation for her work but refuses to be silenced.

Human Rights Watch honors Mathilde Muhindo for her unfaltering dedication to the safety, health, and rights of often forgotten women in eastern Congo.