Julienne Lusenge

1 minute read
By Volker Türk

Societies are only as strong and resilient as their women and girls. The work of Julienne Lusenge embodies this truth. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country torn apart by decades of conflict, women and girls live with a daily reality of violence, extreme hardship, and the denial of fundamental rights. Outraged by these injustices, Julienne, a human-rights defender, co-founded SOFEPADI, which works to prevent sexual and gender-based violence, to support and empower survivors, and to help them rebuild their lives. She is also on the board of the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which each year helps thousands of people regain their dignity. In 2023, the U.N. recognized Julienne’s far-reaching impact with the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.

Julienne’s work to strengthen women’s participation in political processes has been—and continues to be—key for peace building in Congo. As she herself said, “Women are the first victims of war, but only they hold the unique key to peace.” 

Türk is the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

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