“How to Understand Our Times” is a live event series collaboration between The New York Times and how to: Academy, bringing together New York Times journalists and leading figures in diverse fields to examine pressing issues in a changing world.
Emma Watson meets 2018 Nobel Peace laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has devoted himself to campaigning against the use of sexual violence as a weapon of armed conflict — at considerable personal cost.
“What is keeping me going is really the strength of women. I discovered how women are strong, how women can rebuild, and give hope for our humanity.” – Dr. Denis Mukwege.
In 1963, the eight-year-old Denis Mukwege accompanied his father, a pastor, to visit a terminally ill boy in hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They prayed for him but were unable to do more. Denis decided on that day that he would study to a become a doctor.
In 1999, Denis founded the Panzi Hospital, a clinic dedicated to gynaecological care. When war broke out shortly after, the hospital became a refuge for thousands of women subjected to horrifying sexual violence. He pioneered a new, holistic approach, treating not only physical wounds but also addressing the psychological, legal and economic consequences of brutalisation.
In 2012, Denis’s tireless attempts to bring the problem of wartime rape to the attention of the U.N. and to see those responsible brought to justice led to his daughters being taken hostage, the assassination of his bodyguard and an attempt on his life.
In 2018, Denis was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his unceasing ‘efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.’ Despite the ever-present threat, he continues to work and live at the Panzi Hospital under the protection of U.N. peacekeeping detail, performing up to ten reconstructive surgeries every day.
In a rare visit to London for this event, he is joined by award-winning actor and activist Emma Watson.
Star of the “Harry Potter” franchise and “Beauty and the Beast,” Emma Watson is equally renowned for her tireless work as a women’s rights advocate. A U.N. Women’s Goodwill Ambassador who launched the global “HeForShe” campaign encouraging men to support gender equality in 2014, and an inspiration to a generation of young activists, Emma’s impassioned belief in gender equality has taken her to countries such as Bangladesh, Canada, Uruguay, and Zambia.
Emma and Denis will discuss his work and his philanthropy, and explore what we can all do to bring about a safer, fairer future for women and girls.
The conversation will be introduced by Ellen Barry, The New York Times’s London-based international correspondent.