Pakistani digital rights activist Nighat Dad awarded by Dutch government

Nighat Dad


4 minutes read

Founder and Executive Director of the Digital Rights Foundation Nighat Dad has been awarded the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip award 2016. The Human Rights Tulip is an annual award for individuals or organisations that promote human rights worldwide in innovative ways.

Nighat is an accomplished lawyer and a digital rights activist. She is one of the pioneers that have campaigned for access to open internet globally. She has been engaged at a policy level on issues regarding Internet Freedom, Women and technology, Digital Security and Women’s empowerment. The activist has been recently included in Next Generation Leaders List by TIME’s magazine for her work on helping women fight online harassment.

She was also awarded the Atlantic Council Digital Freedom Award 2016. Her work has a particular focus on women, marginalized communities and other groups whose human rights are particularly at risk. Journalists and activists also benefit from her work. Nighat has received personal threats for her work in addition to the opposition from public agencies, violent non-governmental actors, and citizens that do not agree with her ideology. Despite these factors she continues to work selflessly striving for free and safe communication for all people.

A statement by Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders terms her as:

A staunch defender of digital rights and the importance of protecting women and girls and marginalized groups on social media.

Digital Rights Foundation is a non-profit Organization. It is a registered research based advocacy NGO focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and digital governance. The vision of the foundation is to enable people, especially women, to exercise their right of expression without being threatened. The organization works with a belief that free internet with access to information and impeccable privacy policies will encourage such a healthy and productive environment that would eventually help not only women, but the world at large. To help achieve this, the foundation educates people on how to respond to online harassment.

The Human Rights Tulip is an award of the Dutch government, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for courageous human rights defenders who promote and support human rights in innovative ways. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Justice and Peace Foundation in The Hague together select the nominees and provide support for the winning individual or organisation. From the top 10 nominees, from different countries, the final three were selected by voting. The voting started August 29th and continued till September 7th. Over 50,000 votes were cast. The three public favorites after voting were: Nguyen Quang A from Vietnam, Nighat Dad from Pakistan and El Nadim Centre from Egypt.

The final winner was chosen by the Dutch minister of foreign affairs. The winner is to be awarded on 10th December at International Human Rights Day in Hague. The award includes a tulip-shaped bronze statuette. Furthermore, the winner receives extensive training and support worth €25,000. A prize of €75.000 is also given to the winner to further develop or expand the scale of the human rights defender’s work thus befitting more people in more places.