For years, Nigerian doctor Rebecca Dali has cared for her country’s poor and widows. But it was her most recent efforts—reintegrating former Boko Haram captives—that won her the United Nations’ 2017 Sérgio Vieira de Mello humanitarian award.
Dali offers psychological support and practical skill training for Christian girls and women who are often suffering from intense trauma brought on by kidnapping and sexual assault. Many of them have children or are pregnant by their rapists. Because of the stigma this carries, she’s had to talk women out of abandoning their children. And because of their Boko Haram ties, these girls and women are often ostracized by their own communities. As a result, Dali advocates on behalf of survivors whose families and husbands refuse to take their daughters and wives back.
Dali’s work serves but a tiny number of the millions of women around the world who suffer from persecution.