Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Europe's royals mark International Women's Day

The Duchess of Cornwall speaking on International Women's Day 2017
(photo Clarence House Twitter)

International Women's Day has been a power of nature this year and Europe's royals have been at the heart of it. There's been a huge coming together for the annual event and on the day itself, royal women across the continent have been adding their voice to the chorus celebrating female achievement and equality. Here's how Europe's royals marked International Women's Day 2017.

The Duchess of Cornwall welcomed high profile women from all parts of society to Buckingham Palace for an event marking the Women of the World Festival which celebrates the achievements of women and girls. During her speech, Camilla said she believed 'in these turbulent times', it was more important than ever for all women to unite. Among her guests were Gillian Anderson and Cherie Blair.

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited a meeting of the Single SuperMom Foundation in Amsterdam where she launched part of its empowerment training. The support aims to give single mums the tools they need to be self sufficient and to build strong economic foundations and improve job prospects. Queen Maxima spoke to many of the women involved in the foundation, which was set up in 2008.

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians was joined by King Philippe as she greeted Women of Peace Advocates at the Royal Palace in Brussels. The women have all been recognised by the Women's Council for their work against conflict and in support of women's rights. This was the second event linked to International Women's Day involving Queen Mathilde - yesterday, she held a working meeting with women from different parts of the community in Hainault. The Belgian Royal website has underlined Mathilde's commitment to events linked to International Women's Day, saying she sees it as a chance to focus on challenges and expectations.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, along with her husband Haakon Magnus, was at a technology conference in Trondheim which included the presentation of the award for female entrepreneur of the year to Nuria Espallargas. Yesterday, Mette-Marit was present at the signing of an agreement between Innovation Norway and the UN agency UN Women to work towards solutions to improve women's health standards around the world.

International Women's Day began in Copenhagen when a conference on working women voted for an annual day to be marked in every country in the world to press demands for female equality. Women's Day was born and in 1975 it was supported by the United Nations for the first time. Given its Danish origins, and Crown Princess Mary's high profile in expressing support for equality and women's rights, it was no surprise to see her talking at major event in Copenhagen to mark International Women's Day.  

The involvement of so many royal women in so many high profile events on International Women's Day underlines more than the importance of the event. It's an indication of the ongoing work done by many royals in areas that can be overlooked. We think of feminism as a 20th century concept but equality is an ever evolving situation. The fact that women who have been given opportunities many others will never get are using those chances to shine a spotlight on areas like female health or ending domestic abuse is an indication of the vital role that royalty continues to play in modern society. Today has been a celebration of all that women achieve and the strength that comes from all members of society working together. Royal involvement not only gives that a higher profile, it shows that our ruling houses are in touch with what matters and should matter. It's an indication of their future strength as well as a vindication of an idea that brings people across the world together.

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