Julienne Lusenge

Executive Director Fund for Congolese Women

Region(s): Africa

Julienne Lusenge (@LusengeJ) is a renowned human rights advocate for survivors of sexual violence in conflict. She is Executive Director of the Fund for Congolese Women  and founder of Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (@sofepadi).

The Fund was established to mobilize resources for supporting grass roots women’s organizations in Eastern Congo. SOFEPADI is a coalition of 40 women’s organizations in Beni (North-Kivu) established to protect women’s rights and support sexual violence survivors by providing healthcare services, reintegration programs and legal advice to victims.

She received a 2023 United Nations Human Rights Prize, awarded every five years since 1968. She was awarded the  2021 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a global humanitarian award provided by the survivors of the Armenian genocide and in gratitude to their saviors.

In 2021 she co-chaired an independent commission appointed by the director general of the World Health Organization to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by WHO employees during the response to the tenth Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in North Kivu and Ituri in the DRC.

She spoke on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “Women and peace and security” in 2015.

Julienne’s activism began after she experienced the grave impacts of inter-ethnic war in 1998, when members of armed groups tore through her community raping and brutalizing women. She began to publicly condemn and document acts of violence against women, challenging the leaders of armed groups using violence against women in conflict.

When she received a 2021 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State, she was hailed for touching the lives of millions of women across the DRC. The announcement said Julienne’s vocal testimony had contributed to the adoption of international agreements such as UN 1820, which recognizes sexual violence as a weapon of war.

She was awarded the French Embassy’s Human Rights Award in 2012, and the Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2013 by the French Government, the 2016 Ginetta Sagan Award from Amnesty International and the  2018 Women’s International Rights Award at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.