(Tekst enkel in het Engels beschikbaar.)
Speech by HRH Princess Mathilde of Belgium during the walking dinner offered by the Government of Liberia on 18 October 2010
Mrs Loj, Special Representative of the Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a real pleasure to be in Liberia, and, together with many representatives from the United Nations Agencies, to discover your country Liberia.
I thank you for your warm welcome. I thank you for all the efforts President Sirleaf and the Government of Liberia have made to make this joint UNICEF/UNAIDS mission a success.
Knowing President Sirleaf to be an eminent advocate for women and children infected or affected by HIV/Aids, I was looking forward to meeting her again. We have met of course in Belgium, when I had the opportunity to talk with her about Liberia and the long and difficult but steady recovery process your country had been going through under her leadership over the past years.
Torn apart by civil war, she brought Liberia back into the family of democratic nations. Her firm belief in democracy and the rule of law and her unending courage and drive to provide a better life for all Liberian citizens has been recognized throughout the world.
Liberia is the only African country lead by a woman.
I know that President Sirleaf is deeply concerned with the position of women in Liberian society. I also know that she has been trying very hard during her presidential mandate to improve the juridical position of women - be it in the struggle against impunity from punishment of sexual violence or the inferior position of women in many sectors of daily life- it is therefore a pleasure to note that the backbone of the government of Liberia has always been formed by very capable women who are not afraid to tackle the many problems that your country continues to face.
I am here on a visit together with UNICEF and UNAIDS to draw attention to the impact of HIV/Aids on women and children. Although Liberia does not have a high prevalence of HIV/Aids, the country faces a big challenge in fighting violence against children, girls in particular, and women constituting the majority of people living with HIV. Therefore it is very important that Liberia takes now the necessary measures and develops programs to help these women and children to build their own future.
I know that you are very committed to win this fight and you have our total support.
However, the work here is far from finished. Much remains to be done to enforce the rule of law in Liberia, and to restore the normal functions of state.
I know that you are well aware of this and this is why we appreciate your firm wish to complete these challenges. The international community, including my own country, Belgium, will continue to support Liberia in consolidating democracy. A stable Liberia is first and foremost in the best interests of Liberia itself, as well as of the African continent and indeed of the entire world.
A great willingness exists worldwide to help in the rebuilding of Liberia, because your country is important and above all, the people of Liberia deserve support after so many years of conflict.
Your firm commitment to democracy inspires us all.
Once again I thank you for your kind hospitality. I am looking forward to our field visits over the coming days - visits which highlight the efforts being made in Liberia in the fight against HIV/Aids.
We stand by you to win this fight.
I thank you.