Princess Mabel Receives ‘World Without AIDS Award’ During Berlin Gala
During the 24th Festival Opera Gala this evening at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau was presented with the German AIDS Foundation’s ‘World Without AIDS Award’ for her work in the “global fight against HIV and AIDS”.
The Princess said on her Twitter ahead of the gala, which was attended by 2,000 guests, that she was “honoured and excited” to receive the award.
In connection with her award, Princess Mabel gave an interview to Peter-Philipp Schmitt of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, in which she discussed why she got involved with the cause two decades ago while working with the Open Society Foundation, and why she continues to be a strong advocate for the rights of girls and women to this day.
“I found that our work (with the Open Society Foundation) was often complicated by millions of people becoming infected with HIV each year. Many of them died, although they could have been helped. Some were particularly vulnerable – men having sex with men, drug users injecting drugs, prisoners, prostitutes. I realized that if we do not help them, we will not get the AIDS epidemic under control, nor will we be able to create a more just world,” she told Mr Schmitt.
The Princess said how she was concerned people in Europe were “a little too careless” when it came to HIV/AIDS, because despite all the knowledge and information out there about the disease, people are still being infected and are dying from the disease. She also said that while the “number of people who are infected each year has fallen from nearly three million to 1.8 million” globally, this was “still too many” and that girls and young women (especially those who are child brides) were particularly vulnerable.
“Many people believe that marriage, and thus monogamy, protects against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. But that’s just not the case for child brides. A girl who is married as a child has a 50% higher risk of becoming infected with HIV than her peers who are unmarried, even though they are also sexually active,” Princess Mabel said – “although the proportion of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 in the world’s population is only 11 percent, 25 percent of all new HIV infections affect them.”
Talking about how this influences her work with Girls Not Brides, Princess Mabel said that “girls are the secret weapon in the fight against poverty” because they “invest almost 90% of their income into their family and community”, therefore it is imperative that “we have to do more for girls…that they do not marry prematurely, that they go to school and learn a profession.”
Princess Mabel began her work with Girls Not Brides because, eight years ago, she learnt that “15 million girls under the age of 18 were married every year…a child or a teenager is married every two seconds” – statistics which “totally shocked” her.
“When I started to get interested, I thought it was a problem of the Middle East and Muslim countries. But that’s not true. It shows how many prejudices we have. Most child marriages, five million each year, are in India, in a predominantly Hindu country. During my travels to Ethiopia, I discovered that in the Christian Orthodox north of the country, four out of five girls are already married at the age of 18, while in the Muslim South, only 15 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married,” Mabel said of the prevalence of child marriages across the globe; how they are not limited to one region, culture or religion.
The Princess said that everyone around the world needs to work together in order for HIV/AIDS, and child marriages, to be minimised and eradicated. If we all work together, “then what seems impossible becomes possible”, she said.The Netherlands
Tagged Awards, Germany, HIV/AIDS, Interview, Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau.