VENICE — The sixth annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was awarded this week to Julienne Lusenge, a human rights defender, co-founder of Women’s Solidarity for Inclusive Peace and Development (SOFEPADI) and Fund for Congolese Women (FFC), who has been helping the victims of wartime sexual violence for years. Her boundless courage and tireless activism have shone a light on the desperate plight of thousands of Congolese women subjected to horrific sexual abuse amidst the civil war in the country, exposing the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.
She was named the 2021 Aurora Prize Laureate at the Ceremony titled “Reviving Together” that was held in Venice, Italy.
The Aurora Prize is granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors.
“Julienne Lusenge’s exceptional achievements remind us of the impact one person can have, even when encountering the seemingly insurmountable pressure and risks. By recognizing her courage, commitment and selflessness, we are hopeful that she can also inspire each one of us to think about what we can do to stand up on behalf of those whose rights are abused and who are in dire need of our solidarity and support,” noted Lord Ara Darzi, Chair of Aurora Prize Selection Committee and co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has powerfully demonstrated that what happens in one corner of the world, however remote, affects all of us. We cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of others; we cannot afford to not care. Today, more than ever, we need to let the universal values of gratitude and humanity unite and guide us, as they guide 2021 Aurora Prize Laureate Julienne Lusenge,” said Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and Founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering.
As the 2021 Aurora Prize Laureate, Lusenge will receive a $1,000,000 grant and a chance to continue the cycle of giving by supporting organizations that help people in need. This year, considering the acute needs of the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) affected by the 2020 war, Aurora will recommend she direct 25 percent of the award funds to addressing urgent humanitarian issues there. The aurora co-founders are committed to matching this contribution to bring the total amount to $500,000. Besides this, Lusenge has nominated three organizations that support grassroots women’s organizations, empower survivors of gender-based violence and reintegrate internally displaced persons: Fund for Congolese Women; League for Congolese Solidarity and Association of Mothers for Development and Peace.