Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Queen Letizia of Spain attended the inaugural session of the XII edition of the “European Development Days 2018” on Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium. This forum is the largest in Europe for international cooperation and development. Additionally, its primary theme focuses on gender equality and the empowerment participation of females in sustainable development.
Before attending the initial session, Ther Majesties met privately at the Castle of Laeken – the official home of the King and Royal Family of Belgium. They then moved on to the conference where they, accompanied by attending heads of state and government, sat in the front while the session began.
After an opening speech by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, both Queen Letizia and Queen Mathilde gave remarks. In the Queen of the Belgian’s speech, she focused on gender equality and stated, “The battle for equal opportunities between men and women and the protection of vulnerable people deserves to be continued and pushed up.” She added that there is a “growing awareness of the role of African women in mediation as a means of prevention or peaceful resolution of conflicts.”
During the Queen of Spain’s turn on the stage, Letizia told those assembled that “…Europe is essential in the social policies that set the course for cooperation, it is the transversal equity approach, as stated by the United Nations and the European Commission itself, which structures the development of capacities that Every human being deserves: the opportunity to educate themselves, to access health services, to move freely and safely, to feed themselves with quality. Combating gender inequality combined with poverty is a complex task that concerns the public sphere.”
Later, there was a musical performance by Grammy-nominated Angelique Kidjo before Jaha Mapenzi Dukureh, from the Gambia, spoke, as well. An informal lunch was next with Queen Letizia meeting Young Leaders of Development, as well as visiting different stands to see the projects being developed by different global agencies.
Afterwards, Letizia and Mathilde attended the opening of the debate on “Women and girls with disabilities” that was organised by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development.