The Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grande-Duchesse was set up in 1981, when the royal couple got married. Its focus has always been to encourage integration and inclusion. The foundation's Board of Directors is chaired by HRH the Grand Duchess.
In Luxembourg, as in many countries, social exclusion undermines the very fabric of society, and it is vital to tackle the issue as a priority. The reasons for exclusion can be many and varied, from difficulties finding housing or employment to disability. The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess Foundation aims to address all forms of social exclusion by providing prompt and effective moral and/or financial support, working in conjunction with other players in the sector.
The foundation is also committed to helping victims of sexual violence, especially during armed conflict. The "Stand, Speak, Rise Up" conference, initiated and organised by HRH the Grand Duchess in March 2019, helped raise awareness among the general public in Luxembourg and elsewhere of the atrocities experienced by victims of sexual violence.
Individual social assistance – support without bureaucracy
Luxembourg has a highly developed social security network, based on the combined efforts of stakeholders in several sectors, to ensure that those members of society most in need receive appropriate protection. By providing individual social assistance, the foundation serves as a link in this chain.
The social assistance provided by the foundation is aimed at individuals with difficulties or disabilities. The foundation gets involved in areas where other public institutions are no longer able to act, or in cases when time is of the essence and state aid cannot be arranged quickly enough.
In other words, the foundation reaches out to people who cannot find the help they need elsewhere, offering rapid support in various forms.
Financial assistance is a key area of the foundation's work. It can cover everyday expenses such as electricity or heating bills, medical or treatment costs or school expenses. But the foundation also acts in other ways, such as redirecting individuals to the relevant people or organisations, providing comprehensive psychosocial support or offering basic advice and solutions (for example resolving a difficult financial situation).
The most important thing is to provide those asking for help with a friendly ear and genuine support via the foundation's services, and to make sure they receive swift, appropriate assistance.
Tackling sexual violence
Of the many beneficiaries of the foundation's work, single mothers are particularly at risk. They often live in unstable circumstances and may have suffered domestic violence and sexual or psychological abuse. Tackling this abuse is a priority for the foundation.
The foundation does not only work within Luxembourg's borders; it also strives to help people in need via humanitarian projects elsewhere in the world. Tackling the problem of sexual violence as a weapon of war has become a particular priority, culminating in the "Stand, Speak, Rise Up" conference organised by HRH the Grand Duchess in March 2019. The conference in Luxembourg was attended by some 50 survivors of sexual violence from 18 countries. Participants also included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Denis Mukwege, known for his work to help women who have experienced sexual abuse.
At the end of the conference, three agreements were signed. Two of these were to extend and electrify Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The hospital is based in Bukavu, a Congolese city on the Rwandan border. It has 450 beds and specialises in treating gynaecological conditions, including those caused by sexual violence. Directed by Dr Mukwege, the hospital has developed a specific treatment system for victims of sexual violence which not only addresses physical injuries but also includes psychological support, legal aid and socio-economic reintegration.
The third agreement provides for financial support for the NGO "We are NOT Weapons of War", to help develop the mobile application BackUp, which aims to establish a reliable database to analyse the phenomenon of conflict-related sexual violence and offer an appropriate response to the needs of survivors.