(Toespraak beschikbaar alleen in het Engels)
I am truly pleased to meet you.
I understand that the name of your foundation means "Women Walking Together". This name symbolises so much of what I also hold important in life: encouraging women to take up responsibility, and pooling resources to support social progress.
In my own work, I am very sensitive to the plight of the poorest and the underprivileged.
My international commitments focus on microfinance, especially for women, and also on health, on education and on disadvantaged children.
With my husband Prince Philippe, I am also highly interested in corporate social responsibility, and in other issues that dominate public awareness such as unemployment, psychological challenges for children, and so on.
I am pleased to hear that you are also active in a number of these areas.
I am also very impressed by your dynamism and your zeal!
What I find particularly attractive in the way your Foundation operates, is that you have decided to 'give back to society' by pooling your professional networks and your own considerable skills, in order to support social causes.
This pooling of resources I consider as very important.
It is also a strong message we can send to the women we support.
On my travels abroad, I have always encouraged women who face difficult situations, to discuss their problems with other women, to form self-help groups and to take joint initiatives. Women who feel they can share the burden of their lives, generally feel more confident and happy.
Another important aspect for the empowerment of women, is to encourage them towards entrepreneurship.
I know that this is also a key priority for your Foundation.
In my experience as an international advocate for microcredit, I have always been struck by how good women are at managing a small business.
They find creative, common-sense solutions to many problems.
They know how to handle money!
And they often have a very inclusive leadership style.
Women also are very sensitive to health and education issues, which are among the main challenges we all face, across the globe. I would like to hear what you see as specific challenges here in India in these areas.
And lastly, I know that you are all highly committed to culture and to preserving the heritage.
I find it really wonderful that you stimulate traditional crafts and that you promote cultural awareness as part of your programmes.
India has such an impressive heritage and so many expressions of culture, language and tradition that it is really worthwhile for charities to take them into account.
Well, I think I have talked long enough and there is so much to discuss, so let's start talking (not walking) together....