Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium celebrated International Women’s Day yesterday by presenting the Womed Award, which honours ‘a female independent entrepreneur who manages to combine her business, her personal life and a harmonious social engagement’ at the KBC Auditorium in Brussels.
Queen Mathilde also awarded the biannual Womed Award South, which honours an enterprising woman from a developing country (this year’s winner was from El Salvador) and gave a speech in both Dutch and Spanish.
She began by saying: ‘Today we celebrate International Women’s Day and we also bring tribute to female entrepreneurship. A symbolic opportunity to draw attention to the inequalities that still exist between men and women, including in the field of entrepreneurship. Female entrepreneurship contributes to the creation of new development opportunities, as well as to reducing social exclusion and strengthening social cohesion.’
The Queen stressed the importance of awards like the ones being given, as it is crucial that society continues to ‘draw attention to the role of women in society, for equal opportunities between men and women.’ She also referenced the need for more global attention to equality because female entrepreneurship is a ‘key driver for development, particularly for sustainable development.’
She continued: ‘There are, of course necessary accompanying measures: measures that provide protection, structurally support personal development. In that regard, the need for access to education for young girls, the quality of teaching and continuing education can not be stressed enough. Their economic and financial independence, including the right to property, will foster their entrepreneurial spirit. And solidarity among women will safeguard and enhance their opportunities and rights.’
Speaking about the nominees for the Womed Award South Queen Mathilde said: ‘The stories of three nominees from the South teach us that they have not always been easy. Their curiosity and their perseverance, but also the support they enjoyed in the training, have produced results which we honour today.’
In her summary Queen Mathilde looked to the future, saying: ‘Established names in the business world can share their experiences and best practices and make a difference by mentoring the younger generation of entrepreneurs.
‘With female talent, willpower and commitment [we can] build on our development. The women honoured tonight give a strong signal and provide an inspiring response to a global challenge.’
Before the awards ceremony Queen Mathilde and King Philippe received Women of Peace advocates and actors in honour of International Women’s Day.