”I deliver for girls and women to have choice not chance,” says Crown Princess Mary
Denmark hosts the international women’s conference Women Deliver 2016 – taking place from 16 to 19 May in Copenhagen. The Women Deliver conference is about delivering possibilities and progress for girls and women all over the world.
By Bente D. Knudsen Pictures: Kongehuset/Mary Fonden
The main message of the Women Deliver 2016 Conference is that investing in girls and women is key to sustainable development and thus everybody wins when action in favour of girls and women is taken. The campaign #I deliver was launched to invite a wide range of actors as well as “ordinary” citizens to tell how they “deliver” for girls and women, and as HRH Crown Princess Mary is patron of the conference, she decided to promise to help deliver that “girls and women have choice not chance”.
In a rare, long, and in-depth interview in the Danish June issue of Eurowoman, Crown Princess Mary explains why promoting women’s equal rights and opportunities has such a large place in her heart. Her interest was awakened at a conference where she heard an obstetrician from Tchad explain that when a woman falls pregnant in her country, she immediately stands with one foot in the grave.
Crown Princess Mary says about this experience:”I thought, when I heard this, “how can it be that in the 21st century a woman must risk her life to give life?”. This triggered me to start researching and reading to understand the issue at hand – and I found that losing your life when giving life was just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is connected and part of a viscous circle – and it all comes from inequality.”
Crown Princess Mary then decided she had to do what she could to ensure better rights and equal opportunities for girls and women all over the world. Thus her engagement and dedication to, amongst other projects, the Women Deliver 2016 Conference in Copenhagen in May.
At the General Assembly meeting of the UN in September 2015 17 SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) where voted, one of them being the equal rights issues. At the announcement of Copenhagen as venue for the Women Deliver 2016 conference Crown Princess Mary said:” In 2030 my children will be of age, for theirs and billions of young people’s sake we must strive to create a world where girls have the same chances of survival and of thriving as boys do. And where health and well-being do not depend upon which gender she was born with.”
And Mary adds why Denmark is a natural choice for such a conference to be hosted. “The fact is that Denmark has been unfailing in its commitment to improving life of girls and women all over the world and is seen as a front runner in this area with a strong global voice,” she explains.
However, Denmark has its own challenges with equal rights and opportunities for women such as violence against women and too few women in top management positions. So the conference is, according to Crown Princess Mary, relevant for all Danes too and she hopes it will engage Danes, men and women, to discuss the local challenges as well.
”I think most Danes are aware of how privileged we are here and that there are numerous problems with equal rights in other parts of the world, but I hope that the conference will create discussions because it also points to us on the local challenges we have here.”
Mary underlines in the interview with Eurowoman that especially regarding career women, she finds that other women can be better at helping those along who have made that choice (of a career) and even if many developing countries are battling local cultural norms and values that inhibit equal development (such as for instance circumcision or the lack of equal education because girls are not sent to school), there are also cultural values that stand in the way in a developed country such as the DK.
“We are all at different levels in our development (towards equal societies) and it is important to understand that. Our agenda in Denmark is different form theirs. And so it is important to continue the battle in Denmark because we must create equal opportunities for all. And that requires changing some of the prevailing norms also in Denmark,” Mary explains about how she sees the situation here in her new home country.
Women Deliver conferences have become some of the world’s biggest global convenings to focus on the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women. Building on the three previous global gatherings (London 2007, Washington 2010, and Kuala Lumpur 2013), the 2016 Conference will bring together world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, young people, researchers as well as leaders of corporate companies and civil society to showcase what it means and how it works when girls and women become the focus of development efforts.
The Copenhagen conference will be the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health, rights, and well-being in more than a decade, and one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the SDGs. The focus of the conference will be on how to implement the SDGs so they matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health – in particular maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – and on gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment.
Amongst the more prominent speakers – from a long list – are Kofi Annan, Melinda Gates, HRH Queen Maxima of Holland and HRH Crown Princess Mary from Denmark.
The 2016 conference expectations:
Over 150 countries
1,200 young people
As well as private sector representatives from multiple industries, UN Agencies and government representatives, including ministers and parliamentarians from over 25+ countries.
If you would like to participate and be inspired by some of the many speakers you have a unique opportunity to join in as it is possible to buy one-day passes as a local resident. Take note that the one-day passes are open to residents of Denmark only. Proof of a local, Danish address will be required when you register. On-line at wd16.org or follow the link here http://wd2016.org/about/registration/
Prices are :
16 May (Opening Day) – $100
17 May – $300
18 May – $300
19 May – $250
The organisers ask you to take note that the above listed US dollar pricing will be quoted and paid in Danish kroner (DKK) through the Women Deliver on-line registration site. This is due to the fact that the event is taking place in Denmark; however, the DKK pricing will be equivalent to the above US dollar rates.
Other conference related events
Another fun way to join in has been arranged by the Danish Women Deliver 2016 committee of organisers – and particularly the event ”FATHERS AND CHILDREN BIKING TO BELLA CENTER TO WELCOME THE GUESTS OF WOMEN DELIVER” is a truly Danish idea. The organisers believe that in order to empower the focus on the conference and show how far Denmark has advanced on gender equality, they have decided to invite all Danish men and their children to bike from Copenhagen’s Town Square to Bella Center and greet the international guests on May 16th 2016.
“With the event, we want the Danish men and fathers to show the world and the Women Deliver Conference participants that we in Denmark are aware that if men and women have equal opportunities for education and work, it creates more growth and prosperity of the whole society. The men will collectively bike with their kids and be a living symbol of their active role in the Danish family life, which is crucial for the Danish society and the general well-being,” says the Danish conference committee.
The bicycle tour will start at Copenhagen’s Town Square on May 16th at 13:30 and will end at Bella Center ( the main trade center in Copenhagen), where the biking men and children will welcome the participants of the Women Deliver Conference. There will be a great variation of people with cargo bikes, children seats on the bikes, and kids on their own bikes. In the name of equal rights – women are of course welcome too!
13:30 Everyone meets at Copenhagen’s Town Square
13:45 Welcome by the Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen, and Lotte Hansen, CEO of Hansen Agenda and Head of the Danish Women Deliver Consortium
14:15 Departure from Copenhagen’s Town Square
15:00-16:00 Arrival at Bella Center and welcoming of the participants of the Women Deliver Conference
Another event open to the public is the showing of the movies WHY WOMEN? on 18 MAY at the Royal Library – Diamanten/DET KONGELIGE BIBLIOTEK. Five short films and one documentary, Strong Women, all portray the battles of women around the world for equal rights and opportunities.
Helen Mirren is the female voice telling the women’s stories in the short movies. In the documentary you will find amongst other participants the young Afghan rapper Sonita, the Chinese feminist Li Tingting, and Head of International Save the Children, former Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. You can find more information here: http://mags.datagraf.dk/detkongeligebibliotek/49/14
The statistics are scary:
- Every day 3,500 girls under the age of 15 are married
- Every day at least two women are attacked with acid in India
- World-wide 62 million girls do not attend school
- In Africa 3 million girls are circumcised every year – often without anaesthetics and the procedure is performed with razor blades, scissors, broken glass, or tin can lids
- Every year 289,000 women die in child-birth or from child-birth related complications
- On a global scale only 22 percent of members of parliament are women – in Denmark the figure is 37 percent.
- Women spend 90 percent of their income on the family, men between 30 to 40 percent.