The University of Groningen Aletta Jacobs Prize 2022 has been awarded to Rebecca Gomperts. She secured the prize on account of her fight for abortion rights and for women to have access to safe, legal abortions. Her organizations, Women on Waves, Women on Web and Aid Access have managed to put abortion high on the political agendas of various countries. In 2020, Gomperts appeared on a list of the 100 most influential people, published by the American TIME magazine. The prize will be presented on Tuesday 8 March 2022 by the Rector Magnificus of the UG, Prof. Cisca Wijmenga.
‘It was a conscious decision to announce the winner today, on International Safe Abortion Day’, says chair of the jury Prof. Janka Stoker. ‘Unfortunately, safe abortions cannot be taken for granted. The rights of women throughout the world are still under pressure. The jury was impressed by Rebecca Gomperts’ impressive fight for these rights, and by her courageous, tireless campaigning for women across the globe.’ The announcement during this ‘Aletta Year’ is special for the UG, as this year marks 150 years since Aletta Jacobs began studying medicine in Groningen. Stoker: ‘Gomperts’ passionate, inspirational fight for women’s rights in 2021 is reminiscent of the way that Jacobs herself stood up for women all those years ago. We could not wish for a worthier winner.’
Rebecca Gomperts is a qualified doctor. During her internships to Africa and trips to South America with Greenpeace, she heard countless stories of unwanted pregnancies and the lack of access to safe, legal abortions. This inspired her to set up Women on Waves in 1999. To her, there is little difference between women’s rights and general human rights. She sees it as her task to make it clear to people that a woman’s right to decide about her own body is a fundamental human right, and that failing to regulate this properly undermines all other rights.
Rebecca Gomperts is also fighting for better access to clinical and medical abortions in the Netherlands. In her opinion, the Netherlands is lagging behind other countries in this respect, and academic findings are not being put into practice. ‘Abortion is still a punishable offence for doctors who do not have a permit. They risk a four-year prison sentence, while prescribing the abortion pill is safer than paracetamol. At the same time, the Dutch government is giving grants to the anti-abortion organization Siriz’, says Gomperts.
The University of Groningen awards the Aletta Jacobs Prize once every two years to a woman with an academic degree who has promoted emancipation nationally and/or internationally. The prize was established by Prof. Erik Bleumink, former President of the Board of the University. Previous Aletta Jacobs Prize-winners include Khadija Arib, Neelie Kroes, Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, and Els Borst.
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