Speech by Frans Weisglas, chairman Geuzenpenning Foundation, at the presentation of the Geuzen Medal 2018 to Girls Not Brides |
Family members of former Geuzen, Deputy Commissioner of the King, Madam
Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: on behalf of the Geuzenpenning
Foundation I bid you a very warm welcome.
Since 1987, human rights activists and organisations from around the
world have received the Geuzen Medal in this church on 13 March.
One of the past recipients of this honour was Asma Jahangir, Pakistani
lawyer and fighter for human rights. She founded the Punjab Women Lawyer’s
Association and the Women’s Action Forum, action groups which opposed
discriminating laws against women.
She was threatened, regularly imprisoned and the victim of several
attempts on her life. Yet she fought on. Asma Jahangir, our brave laureate of
2002, died last month at the age of 66. Her death has deeply affected us all.
This year, we once again honour an organisation that supports women, and
young girls in particular. I am certain that Asma Jahangir would have been
proud that Girls Not Brides are being presented with the Geuzen Medal.
So a big applause for Girls Not Brides, chair and co-founder
Princess Mabel of Orange and Lakshmi Sundaram, director of Girls Not Brides!
Also a warm welcome to Ms Lilian Goncalves, who will be presenting the
Geuzen Medal to Girls Not Brides.
Around the world, there are currently around seven hundred million women
who were married before they reached the age of eighteen: 250 million of them
actually entered arranged marriages before their fifteenth birthday. That’s an
incredible number, so many girls who have been and are still being forced to
marry a man, often much older than themselves. We cannot imagine how dreadful
it must be to leave your family and spend the rest of your life with someone
you haven’t chosen, someone you often may not even know. To have no influence
over your own future. Or, as Princess Mabel said in one of her speeches:
‘What do you remember of your own wedding day? Was it the happiness you
felt on that day? The love? Dancing with friends and family? Or was your
wedding day the day that you had to leave school? Was it the day that you had
to leave your family to go and live with a man you had never met, a man who was
twice your age? Was it the day you got pregnant, although you were only a child
That quote presses home the massive importance of the work of Girls
Not Brides since 2011 with their fight against child marriages, which robs
young girls of their youth, rights and future.
The aim of Girls Not Brides is to bring an end to child marriages
in 2030, in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations.
Child marriages that destroy the lives of millions of young girls. Which
seriously harm their health. Which deprive these girls of a good education.
As Girls Not Brides tweeted a few days ago: ‘When girls go to
school, they don’t just become better educated. They are healthier, earn more
money, marry later, have fewer children and provide better health care and
education for their own children.’
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I will now read the text of the
accordance with the objective laid down in the Articles of Association, the
board of the Geuzenpenning Foundation has unanimously awarded the Geuzen Medal
In the 21st century, love marriages are still not
the norm everywhere. Young girls are still forced into marriages against their
will. In many cases, these marriages are to a much older man who they don’t
even know. Unacceptable, say Girls Not Brides. Child marriages directly
deprive girls of their youth, rights and future.
Since 2011, Girls Not Brides has been putting
its heart and soul into ending these child marriages and supporting the girls,
under the passionate leadership of Princess Mabel of Orange and director
Lakshmi Sundaram. In this global partnership, more than 1,000 organisations in
over 95 countries work together to achieve one goal: ending child marriage
within one generation, as included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Thanks to Girls Not Brides, many local,
regional and national governments are much more aware of the harm caused by
child marriage to the girl, the family and society. Furthermore, many countries
have taken steps to tighten their legislation with regard to child marriages.
the Geuzen Medal, the board expresses its great appreciation for the valuable
and life-saving work of Girls Not Brides. This makes it a more than
worthy recipient of the Geuzen Medal.
13 March 2018
of the Geuzenpenning Foundation,
F.W. Weisglas A.M.M. Jetten MSc H. Lindenbergh