Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté
Executive Director of the Inter-African Committee, President-Founder of Morissanda Kouyaté Foundation Women and Children, and member of the Every Woman Treaty Board of Directors
Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté is laureate of the United Nations Nelson Mandela Prize 2020. He is a leading advocate on ending violence against women and girls in Africa. He initiated efforts to address violence against women with the African Union Commission, leading to the Maputo Protocol, Africa’s regional instrument on ending violence against women. Dr. Kouyaté carried out exceptional efforts in the fight against harmful traditional practices, particularly for the elimination of the Female Genital Mutilations (FGM): Initiative for the International Day on Zero Tolerance for FGM (https://undocs.org/A/RES/67/146). Dr. Kouyaté holds degrees in medicine from the University of Conakry, Guinea, and Johns Hopkins University and Clark Atlanta University in the USA.
In 1983, Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté experienced a seismic shift in his life’s trajectory. One afternoon, five women rushed into the clinic, carrying twin girls in their arms. The twin girls were in critical condition, hemorrhaging and covered in blood. Up until that point, Dr. Kouyaté had never heard of what was then commonly referred to as female circumcision but is now known as female genital mutilation(FGM.
Dr. Kouyaté and his team did everything they could to save the girls, his wife even donating blood, but the twins were unable to recover from the trauma of the procedure. After their death, Dr. Kouyaté was shaken to the core. In an effort to prevent future deaths, he took three days of personal leave to write a pamphlet on the dangers of female circumcision. It was the first step in this new direction of his life: ending female genital mutilation and all forms of violence against women and girls.
Soon after, Dr. Kouyaté co-organized a meeting in Dakar, Senegal with representatives from 16 African countries. Together, they formed the Inter-African Committee (IAC) on Harmful Traditional Practices, whose mission is to end practices that endanger the health of women and children throughout Africa.
At the same time, Dr. Kouyaté founded the Guinean branch of the IAC, which began extensive in-country work on the topic. Over the past 35 years, Dr. Kouyaté has served Guinea in a variety of health-focused positions and has used each of these roles as an opportunity to leverage support to end FGM. He has also collaborated with the United Nations, the World Health Organization, World Bank, African Union and many other entities to provide expert testimony, facilitate international trainings and more. Further, he has galvanized governments to engage in policy reform while providing guidance on best approaches to prevent and respond to FGM. He served as the President of the Red Cross of Conakry 3.
Today, Dr. Morissanda Kouyaté is Executive Director of the Inter-African Committee, President-Founder of Morissanda Kouyaté Foundation Women and Children, and member of the Every Woman Treaty Board of Directors. Dr Kouyaté was also one of the 2018 Solidarity Laureates by Vital Voices, for his work to end gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices. Prize that was also awarded to Joe Biden and Antonio Guterres.