The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize given by the Dutch minister of foreign affairs to human rights defenders who have committed themselves to human rights in an innovative fashion.
Nighat Dad will formally receive the award on December 10 — Human Rights Day — in The Hague. The prize is a bronze statue that comes with an award of 100,000 euros to develop the human rights work of the winner.
"Human rights advocates are the heroes of our time. Despite the many threats she receives, Nighat Dad fights in an innovative and unique way for better enforcement of human rights in Pakistan. Dad is a pioneer who removes obstacles for internet access, especially for women," Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said in announcing the award.
Freedom of speech is under pressure in Pakistan; the digital freedom of civilians and civil society organizations is increasingly limited. Dad advocates for digital rights and the protection of women, especially younger generations, and marginalized groups on social media. With the prize, Koenders wants to support the freedom of internet users and women in particular.
Reaching women across Pakistan
Dad founded the Digital Rights Foundation in 2012. This foundation supports female internet users through digital safety training, awareness campaigns and the newly developed Cyber Harassment Helpline. With her approach, Dad is able to reach women throughout Pakistan, including in the more rural areas.
Human rights are the cornerstone of Dutch foreign policy. Dad's work fits into two priorities of that policy: freedom of speech, including internet freedom, and the advancement of equal rights for women.