Crown Princess Mary of Denmark has delivered a powerful speech on women’s rights to open the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The 48-year-old gave her heartfelt address virtually, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant she was unable to travel to Switzerland.
Despite the distance, her words were no less powerful as she discussed how the health crisis has had a “disproportionate” devastating effect on vulnerable women in developing countries.
“Human rights do not end just as an emergency begins, pregnancies do not end when emergencies begin… Sexual and gender-based violence does not end, rather, on the contrary, it increases in emergencies,’ she began, addressing the UNHRC Commissioner and assembled delegates.
“This year the world is in the grip of a major global health crisis,” she said. “COVID-19 is not only a global health emergency, but it is also devastating for economic and social development for humanitarian situations and the protection of human rights. While it is true the virus, itself, does not discriminate, the way it impacts does.
“Conflicts and displacement impacts women and girls disproportionately, as too the consequences of the current pandemic. Women and girls’ vulnerabilities are unique, they face different risks and they often not have access to the resources and services that society has to offer,’ she explained.
The wife of the future heir to the Danish throne added that the increased risk of violence against women had created a “crisis within the crisis.”
The Crown Princess has a longstanding relationship with the United Nations, having been named as a patron for the UN Population Fund in 2010.
UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Their mission is to “deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled”.
For her role, the Australian-born royal has visited developing countries to campaign for the rights of women. In November, the mother-of-four travelled to Kenya where she co-hosted a summit calling for an end to violence against women and child marriages.
In December, she visited Indonesia on behalf of the UN to see mobile clinics designed to improve access to contraception throughout the country and took place in discussions speaking out on the illegal practice of female circumcision.