The International Press Institute (IPI) is pleased to join the Österreichische Photographische Gesellschaft and Edition Lammerhuber in recognising Belgian photographer Patricia Willocq as the winner of the 2015 Alfred Fried Photography Award for peace photography

Willocq was honoured for her photo series “Look at me, I am beautiful”, which shows scenes of happiness in which women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who suffered sexual violence – and the children they subsequently bore – have flourished with the support and protection of their community.

The series attempts to both draw attention to the issues of sexual violence and domestic abuse, while providing a glimpse of a world free from violence.

The Award jury – which included photojournalists and IPI members Hilde Sandvik of Norway and Kaisa Rautaheimo of Finland – said of Willocq’s series in a statement: “Her exaggerated staging returns self-worth and dignity to these women. The series is like an African fairy tale, in which tormentors become protectors, good wins over bad. An analogy for the good life, with a right to childhood, schools, a profession, family, self-realization. Not a melancholy but a fierce humanitarian statement that peace is mainly about tolerance, respect and appreciation.”

Willocq accepted the Award, which carries a €10,000 prize, on Thursday night at a gala at Austria’s Parliament attended by 240 guests, including keynote speaker and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who travelled from New Delhi to attend.

During the ceremony, British photojournalist Giles Duley spoke on behalf of IPI in remembrance of those journalists, photojournalists and videographers who lost their lives in the last year in connection with the practice of their profession. Duley himself lost both legs and his left arm in 2011 while working as a photojournalist in Afghanistan.

In addition to Willocq, four other photographers received awards. The Alfred Fried Photography Award Medal went to Arthur van Beveren, for his photo essay about slowly eroding World War II bunkers; Dmitrij Leltschuk, for his photo report about downshifters in Belarus; David Martín Huamaní Bedoya, for his poetic pictures of traditional Peruvian peasants’ lives; and Carla Kogelman, for images of a peaceful everyday life in the Austrian Waldviertel area.

Named for Austrian pacifist, author and 1911 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Alfred Hermann Fried, the Alfred Fried Photography Award recognises the year’s best photograph signifying the theme of peace. According to organisers, the award is intended to draw attention to those images in order “to remind us that peace is a top priority for felicitous coexistence”.

The award was first established in 2013 by the Österreichische Photographische Gesellschaft and Edition Lammerhuber, and is given in partnership with IPI, UNESCO, the Austrian Parliament, and the Austrian Parliamentary Reporting Association.

This year the Alfred Frieda Photography Award received over 14,000 submissions by photographers from 121 countries.