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Aletta Jacobs Prize 2018 awarded to minister Lilianne Ploumen

25 September 2017

The Aletta Jacobs Prize 2018 has been awarded to Lilianne Ploumen. She has been awarded the prize for her commitment to and successful endeavours for the rights of women and girls all over the world. Rector Magnificus Elmer Sterken will present her with the prize on Thursday 8 March 2018.

'Emancipation is a theme running through Lilianne Ploumen's life', says jury chair Prof. Janka Stoker. 'She has been an example to women and girls all around the world for decades. With her “She Decides” initiative, she voiced strong and very successful opposition to American President Trump's policy to stop government funding of an extensive family planning programme comprising contraception, safe abortions, sex education and maternity care. Lilianne Ploumen wants her initiative to contribute to helping millions of women in developing countries to decide themselves whether, when, how many and with whom they want children. The jury of the Aletta Jacobs Prize is particularly proud to be able to award this year's prize to Lilianne Ploumen.'

Lilianne Ploumen
Lilianne Ploumen

Lilianne Ploumen

Elisabeth Maria Josepha (Lilianne) Ploumen was born in Maastricht on 12 July 1962. After completing her Atheneum-A diploma, she studied History of Society at Erasmus University in Rotterdam between 1980 and 1988.

During her studies, Ploumen worked as a social worker in Rotterdam-Crooswijk from 1983 and in the department of statistics and as a research project leader at the Institute for Psychological Market Research from 1985.

Ploumen worked as manager of marketing and research at Foster Parents Plan in Amsterdam between 1990 and 1992, and in 1993 moved to London to work for PLAN, the Foster Parents umbrella organization.

In 1995, she established Ploumen Projecten, an organization that conducts market research and develops ideas for clients from the profit and non-profit sectors. She also worked as fundraising coordinator for Mama Cash in 1995, an international fund that awards grants to women's initiatives. She was director of Mama Cash from 1996 to 2001.

From 2001 to 2007, Ploumen worked for development aid organization Cordaid, first as director of quality and strategy and from 2004 as director of international programmes.

Ploumen was chair of the PvdA party from October 2007 to January 2012.

On 5 November 2012, she was appointed Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation in the Rutte-Samsom Cabinet.

After Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, Ploumen set up the She Decides support fund. This is an international initiative to maintain important facilities for women in the field of family planning. It is also a strong response to the reintroduction to the Mexico City Policy (also known as the Global Gag Rule) by the new American government, a measure that forbids American government funds to be used by organizations making safe abortions available or open to discussion. The measure translates into a cut of at least USD 600 million a year. She Decides currently has the support of 60 countries, dozens of NGOs and other organizations. Within six months the organization received pledges worth USD 300 million.

In the Dutch elections in 2017, in which the PvdA won nine seats, Ploumen was tenth on the electoral list, but due to preferential votes still won a seat in the Dutch House of Representatives.

Aletta Jacobs Prize

Every other year, the University of Groningen awards the Aletta Jacobs Prize to a woman with an academic background who has contributed to women’s emancipation in the national or international arena. The prize was established in 1990 by Prof. Erik Bleumink, former president of the Board of the University. Past winners of the prize include Neelie Kroes, Hedy d’Ancona and Petra Stienen.
Last modified:14 April 2020 4.42 p.m.
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