Václav Havel human rights prize to celebrate international women's rights activists

A Saudi women's rights activist, a group of Buddhist nuns in Nepal, and a Congolese human rights activist have all been nominated.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 08.01.2021 13:09 (updated on 08.01.2021)

This year's Václav Havel Human Rights Award has shortlisted three female finalists, as the panel, chaired by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rik Daems, focused on human rights in its selection.

The panel nominated Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, a group of young Buddhist nuns from a monastery in Nepal and Julienne Lusenge, who documents cases of wartime sexual violence in the Congo.

The winner will be announced at the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 19.

"I would like to thank everyone who submitted proposals for the award in this unusual year. Among the many valuable suggestions, following a debate, they chose three excellent candidates, worthy of reference to Vaclav Havel. It will not be easy to pick the final winner," said President of the Parliamentary Assembly Rik Daems.

Al-Hathloul heads the opposition to the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. She has been imprisoned since 2018.

The nuns from the monastery called Amitabha Drukpa constitute a group who promotes gender equality, environmental sustainability, and intercultural tolerance in the Himalayan villages. They gained fame by transporting material help to outlying villages after an earthquake near Kathmandu in 2015. They also teach women's self-defense and they have biked over 20,000 kilometers in protest against trading in women and girls.

Lusenge is a human rights activist who documents cases of sexual abuse and violence against women in Congo. She has contributed to the conviction of hundreds of perpetrators of acts of sexual violence against women nationwide. She was often threatened for her work.

Michael Žantovský, director of the Václav Havel Library, said:

"Last year, we dedicated the autumn Prague conference, which usually takes place on the occasion of the Václav Havel Prize, to women's rights. We are glad that the jury followed a similar point."

The Václav Havel Prize, named after the late President Havel (1936-2011), has been given out since 2013 with winners receiving a cash prize. It is awarded annually by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Vaclav Havel Library, and the Charter 77 Foundation.