(LWI) Eminent Congolese surgeon Dr Denis Mukwege will be the keynote speaker at the Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) held in Windhoek, Namibia, from 10 – 16 May. In his keynote address on Thursday, 11 May he will speak to the assembly theme “Liberated by God’s Grace”.
Mukwege is a medical doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has provided leadership for Africa and the world, standing up for dignity and rights of people, particularly women who are survivors of sexual violence in conflict situations. Dr Mukwege is well known internationally as an advocate for peace and human rights, and against gender based violence. He is an active Christian layman and has been recognized with a number of prestigious international awards, including the UN Human Rights Award in 2008, the Sakharov Prize in 2014. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“We welcome the opportunity to have an expert from Central Africa speak about a problem that is sadly common all over the world,” says LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge. “We will listen to a leader who doesn’t stop at the analysis of a problem but actively works for its solution.”
Caring for survivors
Dr Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 1999, he and his staff have helped to care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence, making him the world’s leading expert on reparative surgery of internal damage caused by sexual violence.
"Sexual violence is first and foremost a strategy of humiliation, power and subjection. It aims to destroy the source of life and so, it concerns us all," says Mukwege. "In Congo, sexual violence is still an immense scourge. Where once rape was committed mainly by armed groups or the military, it has now spread throughout society.”
The Panzi Hospital “recognizes that assisting survivors of rape is not just about medical healing, but also about all the other needs of survivors: psychological care, legal assistance to fight for justice, and socio-economic support to enable survivors to rebuild their lives," Mukwege explains. The hospital was initially built for 120 beds but the total number of beds is now 350, out of which 200 are devoted to sexual violence survivors. On average, Panzi admits 410 patients per month and is currently running at maximum capacity.
“Gender based violence is an undeniable reality for many every day,” says LWF General Secretary Junge, “gender justice requires that both men and women stand up, resist and confront violence. I personally look forward to listen to Dr Mukwege at the Assembly, he has a lot to tell us about fighting gender based violence, and working for healing and peace.”
The Twelfth Assembly of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) will take place 10-16 May 2017 in Windhoek, Namibia, under the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace”. Almost 800 participants — including nearly 400 delegates from the 145 LWF member churches in 98 countries worldwide — will participate. The assembly is the highest LWF decision-making body and meets every six to seven years.
The Assembly will give general direction to the work of the LWF for the next years. It will speak out on issues concerning the life and witness of the churches and the world. It will elect the LWF President and Council to serve until the next Assembly. At the Assembly the LWF will commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
The Assembly is hosted by the three Namibian member churches of the LWF, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia-German Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Further information: www.lwfassembly.org
For all media contacts:
Rev. Árni Svanur Daníelsson
Head of Communication
The Lutheran World Federation