The United Nations has labeled the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to two defenders of victims of sexual violence “a fantastic announcement” while the UN Chief called the winners fearless champions of the rights of women.

Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State in Iraq, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize earlier Friday.

This year’s joint winners- a Yazidi woman who escaped ISIS captivity in Iraq only to become an outspoken advocate for women and a Congolese gynecological surgeon who specializes in the treatment of women who’ve been raped in DRC.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, “Murad gave voice to unspeakable abuse in Iraq when the violent extremists of Daesh brutally targeted the Yazidi people, especially women and girls. As a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime since 2016, she has pursued support for victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery and justice for perpetrators. Her powerful advocacy has touched people across the world and helped to establish a vitally important United Nations investigation of the harrowing crimes that she and so many others endured.”

Dr Mukwege has been described as a fearless champion for the rights of women caught up in armed conflict who have suffered rape, exploitation and other horrific abuses in the DRC.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it wanted to create awareness around women being used as a weapon of war and highlight the need for greater protections.

Guterres adds, “Despite regular threats to his life, he made the Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a haven from mistreatment. The United Nations has supported his efforts. He has been a strong voice calling the world’s attention to the shocking crimes committed against women in wartime. As a skilled and sensitive surgeon he not only repaired shattered bodies but restored dignity and hope.”