For her tireless commitment to working with women who have experienced the most horrific sexual violence in some of the most dangerous countries in the world, and campaigning for them to receive social recognition and compensation.
Monika Hauser is a Germany-based gynaecologist, who has treated thousands of survivors of wartime sexual violence. In 1993, she founded the organisation that is today called medica mondiale to treat women subjected to sexual violence and to prevent and punish sexual violence against women and girls in wartime. Hauser and her colleagues have helped over 70,000 traumatised women and girls in war and post-war crisis zones in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, DR Congo, Liberia and Afghanistan, often despite great risks to their own security.
Medica mondiale supports and assists women and girls in war zones and areas of crisis, whose physical, psychological, social and political integrity has been violated. This support and assistance are provided irrespective of the women and girls’ political affiliation, ethnic origin or religion. The aim is to strengthen the women’s self-healing powers, and support and demand their right to an emancipatory way of life.
The organisation has a double strategy of individual professional support and human rights work by establishing sustainable local structures to provide support for survivors of wartime sexual violence. Medica mondiale does this by setting up interdisciplinary counselling and therapy centres, capacity building and training of local professional staff, and political advocacy for women’s rights.
Monika Hauser was born in 1959 in Switzerland and holds an Italian passport due to her family roots in South Tyrol. She completed her doctorate in medicine in Innsbruck and Bologna in 1984, obtained her German medical licence in 1988 and completed her gynaecological specialisation in 1998. She came to work with victims of sexual violence after being exposed as a young doctor in South Tyrol and Germany to women who had experienced rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Bosnia - Building up Medica Zenica
At the end of 1992, Hauser was shocked by media reports about the tragedy of Bosnian women and the instrumentalisation of the survivors in the media, which often reduced women to mere "rape victims." She assembled a highly motivated team of 20 Bosnian experts, collected the funding needed, brought the complete material for the clinics to Central Bosnia through the frontlines and built up Medica Zenica, a women's therapy centre, in the middle of war-torn Bosnia.
Setting up Medica Zenica, Hauser insisted on a multi-ethnic team. The creation of such a centre in a war situation was pioneering work, even more remarkable in a highly patriarchal and hostile war context.
Starting medica mondiale
Out of these activities, medical mondiale gradually evolved. For the next six years, Hauser continued to further the development of medica mondiale. She also returned to Zenica for several extended stays. In 1999, she initiated the project medica mondiale Kosova, involving numerous project visits to Albania and Kosovo. In 2000, Hauser assumed the professional and political management of medica mondiale.
Medica mondiale supports and assists women and girls in war zones and areas of crisis, whose physical, psychological, social and political integrity has been violated. This support and assistance are provided irrespective of the women and girls' political affiliation, ethnic origin or religion. The aim is to strengthen the women's self-healing powers and to support and demand their right to an emancipatory way of life.
The organisation has a double strategy of individual professional support and human rights work by establishing sustainable local structures to provide support for survivors of wartime sexual violence, setting up interdisciplinary counselling and therapy centres, capacity building and training of local professional staff, and political advocacy for women's rights.
Advocacy for women's rights and legal prosecution
Since its formation, medica mondiale has worked for the recognition of sexual violence in wartime as a war crime, for the prosecution of the perpetrators, and against social stigma and the marginalisation of the survivors.
Medica mondiale supported the investigations of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, took care of witnesses, monitored court proceedings and protested publicly whenever it saw the interests of women witnesses threatened. Medica mondiale also campaigned for the creation of the International Criminal Court and contributed to the fact that grave sexual violence became explicitly recognised as a war crime and crime against humanity in the ICC's statutes.
Facts and figures
Medica mondiale conducts independent projects in Bosnia and Hercegovina (27 staff), Kosovo (25 staff) and Albania (12 staff), and own projects in Afghanistan (72 staff) and Liberia (17 staff). It works with partner organisations in Cambodia, DR Congo (6 co-operative partners), East Timor, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda and Israel, supported by an office in Cologne, Germany, with around 30 staff, plus a similar number of volunteers and 100 women in action groups in several German cities.
Medica mondiale estimates to have - directly and indirectly - reached around 100,000 women and girls through their projects. Half of medica mondiale's 2007 budget of 3 million Euros came from private donations. Organisational sources of funds in 2007 included the Sigrid Rausing Trust, KfW Development Bank, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which regards medica mondiale as "an essential partner" in relation to women and conflict, the European Union, the Danish Embassy in Afghanistan and the German Government.
In 2005, medica mondiale published Violence Against Women in War, a manual of lessons learned from 11 years of experience in half a dozen countries emerging from war.
Hauser lectures regularly at national and international congresses and public events, presenting the work of medica mondiale to the general public and professional panels. She has also been active as a trainer for the medica mondiale Qualification Programme for Afghan women doctors, nurses and midwives in Kabul.
Hauser has received a number of awards for her work, for example the "Woman of the Year" award in 1993 from the German ARD TV and the “State Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia 2012” honouring her outstanding humanitarian work in war regions and other crisis areas. She was named "European of the Year 2011" by Reader's Digest magazine and has been awarded the “North-South Prize 2012” from the Council of Europe. She turned down the German Federal Cross of Merit in protest against the German Government's policy of forced repatriation of Bosnian refugees.