The Aletta Jacobs Prize 2014 has been awarded to Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). She has been awarded the prize in recognition of her efforts to improve the treatment of women, particularly in Asia. The prize will be presented by the Rector Magnificus of the University of Groningen, Elmer Sterken. This is the first time that the Aletta Jacobs Prize has been awarded to someone who is not Dutch.
According to jury chair Prof. Janka Stoker, Heyzer is a shining example of a modern-day Aletta: ‘After completing her PhD on equal rights and opportunities for women at Cambridge, she ventured into the world to fight for the same themes on rubber plantations and in a cotton factory. Heyzer has thus not only championed the improvement of the position of women academically, but also in practice, particularly in developing countries.’
Noeleen Heyzer (Singapore) gained a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts at the University of Singapore and a PhD in the social sciences from Cambridge University (UK). She has always been very interested in emancipation in the widest sense of the word. As director of the Gender Programme of the Asian and Pacific Development Center, she played a key role in the drawing up of development policy and programmes from a gender perspective and advised various Asian governments on this issue.
As head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the UN organization that aims for equal rights for men and women and to give women a voice, she was particularly involved in the promotion of female leadership in conflict situations, with putting an end to violence against women and with fighting HIV/AIDS from a gender perspective.
Heyzer is currently an Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). She was appointed to the latter position in July 2007 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. On 10 June 2013 he appointed her as his special advisor for Timor-Leste.
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