2011 Women's rights Prize Recipient
AVEGA Agahozo is a nonprofit organization founded by 50 women who lost their husbands in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, the organization includes among its members more than 20,000 widows and more than 71,000 dependents and orphans. Its centers across Rwanda provide medical services, psychological counseling, education and training, housing and legal services. Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 100 days of violence, 67 percent of whom contracted HIV as a result. The three health centers set up by AVEGA provide medical care through regular visits to those suffering from AIDS, as well as nutrition support to the more than 1,500 AVEGA members receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV. AVEGA also assists widows who wish to testify against those accused of genocide; in national, international and community-based gacaca courts, an estimated 800,000 perpetrators have been convicted so far. In addition, AVEGA has helped its members become involved in income-generating activities, such as business projects, farming, knitting and basket-weaving.
The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2011 Women's Rights Prize to AVEGA Agahozo, an association of genocide widows in Rwanda which has, through strategies of advocacy, legal aid, health care, housing, trauma counseling and income generation, restored the dignity of thousands of women survivors.
AVEGA, founded by 50 genocide survivors in 1995, has fought successfully for legal reforms raising the penalties for rape and sexual violence and enabling widows to inherit their husbands' property. They have counseled survivors to testify against genocide perpetrators in the traditional courts, achieving perhaps their greatest victory when the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda made the historic ruling that rape was an act of genocide.