Saturday, 16 January 2021

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Women key to sustainability, Danish Crown Princess tells EDDs

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, at the UN's European Development Day stand

Her Royal Highness Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark, concluded the European Development Days on 6 June with an impassioned plea for the future of the planet.

“We have for too long lived with over-consumption, uncontrolled growth and the exhaustion of the planet´s resources. So, the world, we the people of the world, have to make the strongest efforts to meet the promises that have been made to protect the planet, remedy our wrongdoings and secure the future of our planet that gives us life. And girls and women are also key in this endeavour,” she said.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark visiting the UN Stand at the European Development Days, 2018

More than 8,000 people participated in two days of discussions and debates at the European Development Days, which have been organized annually by the European Commission since 2006 as a meeting place for the global development community.  This year´s theme was “Women and Girls at the Forefront of Sustainable Development: protect, empower, invest.” 

All major concerns of women in the perspective of sustainable development were raised in dozens of seminars and panel discussions, as well as displays on themes, such as ensuring the physical and psychological integrity of girls and women, promoting economic and social rights, the empowerment of girls and women and strengthening girl’s and women’s voice and participation.

A centrepiece of the EDD´s was the Global Village featuring stands that showcased successful projects and ground-breaking reports from around the world. 


In the concluding debate Sakharov prize winner, Denis Mukwege, founder,of the Panzi Hospital and Foundation was applauded for his tireless work to help victims of violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr. Mukwege recounted that he had treated in a few years three generations of women, where all three had been raped - the youngest only 2 years old. “For me this was proof that I could not stay eternally in the hospital doing surgery, that more had to be done because there we are treating the consequences but you have to go further..Women´s bodies should not be a battlefield.”

The European Development Days had a strong emphasis on the inclusion of youth in order to engage new voices and emerging actors in development. In the closing discussion, Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General´s envoy on youth, denied that young people were politically inactive. “Similar to all the young people, that you see here, they are finding alternative ways of participation. If you see the women’s marches all across the globe, if you saw what happened for example during the Arab Spring, how young women came out on the streets, demanding that their voices would be heard, or the march for black lives in the United States, that is how our generation has chosen to participate politicallly in life.”

UN Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, at the UN's European Development Days #SDGStudio, #EDD18

There was also space for music and Beninese artist Angélique Kidjo and Senegalese singer Youssou N´Dour warmed the audience with popular African music.

Many speakers highlighted the connections between development and gender equality. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that gender equality was crucial for every country and every society in the world.

Deputy Secretary-General. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed signing the UN's Human Rights graffiti wall at the European Development Days, 2018

“It is the precondition for sustainable development.”

Many different opinions were expressed during the discussions but everyone agreed with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, when she emphasized how important gender equality was for sustainable development:

“There is a place reserved in the garbage heap of history for discrimination against women and girls. It belongs there along with racism and slavery,“ said Mrs.Solberg, who is the co-chair of the SDG Advocates group.


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