Maria Teresa de Luxembourg
Cour grand-ducale de Luxembourg
HRH the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was born on 22 March 1956 in Havana, Cuba. “A woman of heart and conviction, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa puts the protection of the most vulnerable and the defence of women’s and young girls’ rights against all forms of violence at the heart of her social and humanitarian engagements.” Since her marriage in 1981, the Grand Duchess has initiated many projects to support vulnerable people in Luxembourg and across the world, notably through the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grande-Duchesse, an association which she presides. She has granted her patronage to numerous Luxembourgish charities and sociocultural organisations, such as the Luxembourg Red Cross and the Fondation Cancer. Her actions are guided by the principles of defending the rights of women and girls and the fight against all forms of violence against them. She is committed to encouraging women to actively participate in building fairer societies based on respect for human dignity and solidarity. The Grand Duchess is particularly affected by the trauma, isolation and stigmatisation of women and girls who had been victims of sexual violence in fragile environments and commits herself to their cause from 2014 onwards. After doing extensive research on the subject, she met with survivors. In 2016, Her Royal Highness met with the winners of the Sakharov Prize, Nadia Murad (Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2018) and Lamiya Aji Bachar, two young Iraqi women from the Yezidi community, who have become symbols for all the victims of violence from the so-called Islamic State and spokespersons of their community. It was also in 2016 that the Grand Duchess met Dr. Denis Mukwege (Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2018). Deeply impressed by his work, she took the initiative to organise with him and with Céline Bardet, founder and director of the association “We are not Weapons of War”, the international Forum “Stand Speak Rise Up!” in Luxembourg, in March 2019, to put an end to sexual violence in fragile environments. This international forum, which brought together 50 survivors and three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Professor Mohammed Yunus, Doctor Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, attracted 1200 people. Set up as a true debating platform among the key actors in the fight against sexual violence in fragile environments and the victims themselves, this Forum highlighted the experiences, actions and recommendations of both representatives of national and international organisations and particularly of the survivors of sexual violence, who were at the heart of the debate. The Grand Duchess created the association “Stand Speak Rise Up!” in September 2019 to condemn rape as a weapon of war and sexual violence in fragile environments, prevent their proliferation and support victims in their reconstruction and their need for justice. The association gathers numerous renowned personalities who are committed to help around the world.