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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 yourself?’



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 award decision:

In accordance with the objective laid down in the Articles of Association, the board of the Geuzenpenning Foundation has unanimously awarded the Geuzen Medal 2018 to:


Girls Not Brides


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.


By awarding 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.

Vlaardingen, 13 March 2018


On behalf of the Geuzenpenning Foundation,


the chairman,                                   the secretary,                                   the treasurer,

F.W. Weisglas                                   A.M.M. Jetten MSc                        H. Lindenbergh


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