On 8 March 2010, the University of Groningen will award the Aletta Jacobs Prize to Neelie Kroes. She is receiving the prize in honour of the major social impact of her work and the clear, exemplary role she plays fulfilling positions that are sometimes unique and often powerful. Kroes is an example for women from many generations and, particularly recently, she fulfils a significant, effective and positive pioneering role in the field of female emancipation. In this sense she is following in the footsteps of Aletta Jacobs. The award ceremony will be on 8 March 2010 in the Academy Building of the University of Groningen.
In its report, the jury expresses its great admiration for the impressive manner in which Neelie Kroes has forged a career for herself, the conclusive results she has attained and the fact that she was often the first woman to hold a position. Feminism and emancipation were of no concern to her for a long while. Her guiding force was her wish to have sufficient opportunities as a woman to make her own choices and remain independent. She achieved this by rolling up her sleeves and mucking in. It was only at a later age – when she was already one of Europe’s most powerful women – that she held high the banner of feminism. She is a firm proponent of extra chances for women in the job market. Quota for women are no luxury but a necessary tool in achieving a better male-female ratio in the workplace.
Neelie Kroes (Rotterdam, 1941) is European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda. She studied Economics at the Economische Hogeschool Rotterdam, now Erasmus University Rotterdam. She has been a member of the Dutch parliament, Secretary of State for Transport, Public Works and Water Management in the first Van Agt cabinet (1977-1981) and Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management in the first and second Lubbers cabinets (1982-1986 and 1986-1989, respectively), president of Nyenrode business school, currently Nyenrode Business Universiteit, as well as European Commissioner for Competition.
Neelie Kroes has been on the Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women in the world for several years. She has been made a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion and Grand Officer in the Order of the Netherlands Lion. She has also been awarded many prizes, including the Machiavelli Prize in 2007 for the way that, averse to populism, she has presented her work in Europe in clear terms to a wide audience.
The Aletta Jacobs Prize award ceremony will be preceded by two debates entitled ‘I’m proud to be quotaed’. The pros and cons of preferential treatment that some organizations use to attract women for top positions will be debated. Engaging in the first debate will be Christien Brinkgreve, professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science at Utrecht University and Janka Stoker, professor of Leadership and Organizational Change at the University of Groningen. The second debate will be between Loek Hermans, MKB-Nederland, Jan Nooitgedagt, CFO of Aegon NV and Mirjam Sijmons, member of the executive board of the motorist’s association ANWB en chair of WOMEN Inc.
Cunera van Selm, television host at RTV Noord, will lead the debates. Sybilla Dekker, former Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment and chair of Taskforce naar de Top (Taskforce to the Top) will conclude the first part of the afternoon.
The title of the debate refers to a statement Kroes made in 2004, upon becoming European Commissioner. In answer to a question put to her by a journalist on her feelings on becoming European Commissioner due to preferential treatment, she replied: “I’m proud to be quotaed.”
Rector Magnificus Frans Zwarts will open the award ceremony, which will be followed by a presentation given by students of the Dr. Aletta Jacobscollege secondary school in Hoogezand. They are the winners of a competition held by the municipality of Hoogezand-Sappemeer, meant as a continuation of Hoogezand-Sappemeer’s Aletta Jacob Prize, which strives to keep the ideas of its prominent citizen alive.
The jury comprised the following members: Prof. C.J. Weeda (chair), J.M. Dam (secretary), Prof. E. Bleumink, J.M.F. Borg, Prof. G. Lycklama à Nijeholt, Y.P. van Mastrigt LLM, Prof. J.I. Stoker, Prof. E.G.E. de Vries.
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1.30 p.m. Doors open & welcome
2 p.m. Debate ‘I’m proud to be quotaed.’
led by Cunera van Selm, RTV Noord television host
› Opening by Prof. Sibrand Poppema, President of the Board of the University of Groningen
› Interview with Neelie Kroes
› Debate between Christien Brinkgreve, professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science [DJR1] at UtrechtUniversity and Janka Stoker, professor in Leadership and Organizational Change at the University of Groningen
› Debate between Loek Hermans, MKB-Nederland, Jan Nooitgedagt, CFO at Aegon NV and Mirjam Sijmons, member of the executive board of ANWB and chair of WOMEN Inc.
› Conclusion by Sybilla Dekker, former minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment and chair of Taskforce naar de Top
3.30 p.m. Break
4 p.m. Presentation of the Aletta Jacobs Prize
› Opening by Frans Zwarts, Rector Magnificus of the University of Groningen
› Presentation by the winners of the Aletta Jacobs Prize of the municipality of Hoogezand-Sappemeer
› Presentation of the jury report by its chair, Prof. Iteke Weeda
› Presentation of the Aletta Jacobs Prize by Prof. Frans Zwarts
› Word of thanks by Neelie Kroes
› Recital by Lydia de Vries accompanied on piano
5.15 p.m. Reception
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