The Power of Women: A Doctor's Journey of Hope and Healing by Denis Mukwege

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About the Book

Title: The Power of Women: A Doctor’s Journey of Hope and Healing

Author: Dr. Denis Mukwege

Genre: Nonfiction, Feminism, Health, Medicine, History, Africa

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: September, 2022

Pages: 320, Paperback


The Power of Women: A Doctor’s Journey of Hope and Healing by Denis Mukwege is one of the most horrific and depressing yet hopeful books I have read. I am not sure if this makes sense. 


First, I must admit I was unaware of Dr. Denis Mukwege, a world-renowned gynecologist, Nobel laureate, and human rights activist. When I picked the book as a collection of my ‘moving away from the city gift and TBR pile,’ it was because the title intrigued me. Then the subject matter and the reviews had a hold on me. I am glad I picked it.


Second, I have the utmost respect and adoration for the author. Not just for choosing this career path but for standing to his guns despite the lack of government support, ridicule, and numerous threats, including assassination attempts. 


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Holding the ower of Women Book


Synopsis and My Honest Thoughts About the Book

Born in Congo, Dr. Mukwege gives an account of his childhood and how it might have helped shape the person he became. One of the key lessons from all of this was his upbringing, where house chores were never assigned on a gender basis. Unfortunately, most of us have grown up with this. Where girls are given chores that assume the motherly and caregiver title, and we grow up knowing or thinking this is the only role we should play. And boys grow to be men who expect everything to be done for them because they have been raised in households that made them believe having someone catering to your every whim is life. Such prejudices have made it possible for women to be treated as lesser beings and objects. 


But this book’s most prominent and important theme is sexual abuse, especially in war-torn areas, and its use during wars as a weapon against communities and countries, not just in Congo but other regions. For instance, there are accounts of mass rape during WW II. Heck, we have seen reports of rape used in the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine by Russian soldiers. These acts of sexual violence don’t just destroy women but future generations of children born from these acts. 


I also got a lot of history lessons from this book. Like how the Rwandan genocide has played a significant role in the growth of militias in parts of Congo, which has a big role to play in the high rates of unspeakable sexual abuse of women in these regions. 


Perhaps the silver lining in these horrible and sad stories is the work of Panzi Hospital, which Dr. Mukwege founded. It is more than just a hospital, but a haven that works to give sexual abuse survivors hope to overcome their trauma and live again. Such an ordeal is hard to forget. But with the various initiatives that teach survivors technical skills and psychological treatments, you can see how many have prevailed and continue to give others hope.


There is so much to learn and unlearn as individuals and society from this book. The author takes the time to explain how our beliefs, culture, and policies, or the lack thereof, have influenced the growth of sexual abuse. Save for the emotional burden of reading about the heinous acts of violence of his patients; this is a book worth picking up! 


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My ★ Rating 5.0

Goodreads ★ Rating 4.73 (as of July 2022)

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