Yazidi activist Nadia Murad was just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and $500,000 in prize money for her work campaigning for justice for her community, which has been terrorized by ISIS — and she’s using every penny of it to fight against sexual violence and trafficking.
Murad promised in a press conference on Monday to use 100% of the prize money to support Nadia’s Initiative, the organization she founded, to advocate for victims of genocide and human trafficking and to help communities in need.
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The 25-year-old Murad started the organization after surviving sexual violence at the hands of ISIS fighters and war herself. At age 19, she was kidnapped from her home in Kojo, a village in the Sinjar region of Iraq, and held hostage by the Islamic State.
During that attack, militant fighters killed over 3,000 people Yazidis, a religious minority in Iraq. Murad’s mother and six of her brothers were among those killed, and though Murad survived, she was one of about 6,500 Yazidi women who were taken into slavery. Murad and many others were not only forced into servitude, but were sold as sex slaves to fighters.
After three months of torture and sexual abuse, Murad escaped to a refugee camp in Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan. She has been calling for justice for her people ever since, even speaking at the United Nations. While Murad continues to speak out on behalf of the Yazidi people and has campaigned with Global Citizen for justice for her community, her organization also helps survivors of genocide and human trafficking around the world. Murad also appeared on the Global Citizen stage last year in Hamburg, Germany to speak about the mental health of refugees.
According to the US State Department, about 700,000 victims are trafficked across international borders each year, and there are approximately 25 million slaves worldwide today.
“I think of my mother, who was murdered by [ISIS,] the children with whom I grew up, and what we must do to honor them. Persecution of minorities must end," Murad said in a statement after receiving the Nobel Prize.
In just a few years, Murad has received many accolades for her inspiring work. She was named one of the 100 Most People by Time and became the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations. Her advocacy led to the United States State Department to acknowledge the genocide carried out against the Yazidis by the Islamic State. And was the first person to raise the issue of human trafficking before the United Nations Security Council.
At 25, Murad is the second youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize — girls education advocate Malala Yousafzai remains the youngest, having won the award at age 14. Murad is the first Iraqi citizen to win the award, which she shares with Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecological surgeon from The Democratic Republic of Congo who works with victims of sexual violence.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled by their support,” Murad said in a statement. “And I share this award with Yazidis, Iraqis, Kurds, other persecuted minorities, and all of the countless victims of sexual violence around the world.”
Despite the high honor, Murad has no plans to rest any time soon.
“A single prize and a single person cannot accomplish these goals," Murad said. "We need an international effort."