Nighat Dad recipient of 2016 Human Rights Tulip
The 2016 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to the Pakistani internet activist Nighat Dad. Foreign minister Bert Koenders will present her with the prize on Saturday 10 December, Human Rights Day, in The Hague.
The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work.
‘Human rights defenders are modern-day heroes,’ said the minister. ‘Despite the many threats she has received, Nighat Dad continues to fight to improve adherence to human rights in Pakistan in a unique and innovative way. Ms Dad is a pioneer who is working to remove everyday obstacles to internet access, especially those that affect women.’
Freedom of expression is under pressure in Pakistan. Increasing restrictions are being placed on the digital freedoms of individuals and civil society organisations alike. Ms Dad is a staunch defender of digital rights and the importance of protecting women and girls and marginalised groups on social media. Mr Koenders hopes that this prize will serve as a gesture of support for the freedom of internet users, especially women.
In 2012 Ms Dad founded the Digital Rights Foundation, which supports female internet users in the form of digital security training courses, public awareness campaigns and the newly created Cyber Harassment Helpline. Ms Dad’s approach enables her to reach women throughout Pakistan, including those in more remote areas of the country. Human rights are the cornerstone of the Netherlands’ foreign policy. Ms Dad’s work is in keeping with the two priorities of that policy: freedom of expression, including internet expression, and promoting equal rights for women.