Crown Princess Mary gives speech on women’s rights at WHO Regional Committee meeting

Crown Princess Mary gives speech on women’s rights at WHO Regional Committee meeting

On Monday, September 12, Crown Princess Mary – as Patron of World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe – attended the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in Copenhagen and gave a speech.

[WHO Regional Office for Europe video screengrab]

Mary gave a speech, which is a good nine minutes long, on how gender equality and women’s access to proper healthcare is vital to reaching success with Agenda 2030. She also addressed immunization and antibiotic resistance.

For space, I’m only quoting part of the speech. She began by congratulating the UN and WHO for their successes, then said:

    “I share in the belief that girls and women are the key to building healthy, prosperous, and sustainable societies and communities. Today more than ever, this belief is recognised explicitly in the new Sustainable Development Agenda – our ability to achieve truly transformative change and results across all 17 goals is dependent on the realisation of gender equality and significant progress achieved for girls and women.
    “In May, 6000 people from 169 countries participated in the 4th Women Deliver Conference here in Copenhagen. The conference was a perfect platform to accelerate effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda with a specific focus on how to effectively deliver the SDGs, so that they become a reality in the lives of girls and women all around the world.
    “In short, how to make the world a better place for all. Naturally enough, health – in particular maternal, sexual and reproductive health and rights – and gender equality, education, environment, and the economic empowerment of girls and women were high on the agenda.
    “Two agenda items of this Regional Committee the ‘Strategy on women’s health and well-being in the WHO European Region’ and the ‘Action plan for sexual and reproductive health in Europe’, are directly linked to the request of many participants at the Conference for support in developing their national policies, as well as support to solve existing problems.
    “This WHO Strategy recognizes women’s health from a life course perspective and focuses on the impact of gender inequalities recognized by SDG Number 5 on health outcomes for women. It provides a guide for the health sector on tackling existing discrimination, biases and one of the most widespread violations of human-rights – violence against women.
    “Investing in a life-course approach to health means ensuring the promotion of a healthy start to life and meeting the health needs of individuals throughout their lives. Whilst there’s more to be done, good practice already exists and was discussed by experts and policy makers during the WHO European Ministerial Conference on the Life-course Approach in the Context of Health 2020. It resulted in the Minsk Declaration and calls for immediate joint action – which is to be further discussed in a session this afternoon.
    “Two areas where I find this life-course approach to be particularly valuable are in the promotion of immunization and combating antimicrobial resistance – one of the main threats to the global health of our time. Through the success of antibiotic treatment, we have grown to believe that antibiotics can pretty much cure everything. This misperception is wide-spread. In order to be successful in addressing antibiotic resistance; we need to change people’s attitudes and behaviours. Understanding the issues and acting accordingly is at the core of the solution.
    “I understand that in the European Region since 2011, there has been a significant increase in action after the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance, which was adopted during the Regional Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan.
    “The World Antibiotic Awareness Week is one of the many activities – which I also lend my support – that are important in achieving the goals laid out in that Plan.
    “On Wednesday you will discuss an action plan for the health sector response to viral hepatitis in the WHO European Region – a plan to address the increase in chronic viral hepatitis-related liver diseases, which is a serious public health burden in our Region. The plan aims to overcome the challenges facing the Region in terms of surveillance and access to prevention and harm reduction services. It also reaffirms your adoption in 2014 of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020, and its third goal – to control hepatitis B infection through immunization.
    “Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as hepatitis B, must continue to hold our focus and we must remain persistent. The progress made towards measles and rubella elimination and maintenance of the Region’s polio free status, clearly demonstrates the positive return on investment for immunization. Controlling hepatitis B is achievable.
    “Indeed, all of the items on the agenda this week yield whole-of-society benefits that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. The topics and issues you will discuss are also very much responsive to the needs of the Region. This demonstrates the value of a strong WHO and I am proud to be Patron of an organisation that is genuinely listening to your needs and wants and is taking action – even when that requires reform. It is a bold and courageous step WHO now takes to strengthen the Region’s collective ability to respond to emergencies, and to be better prepared and more resilient to public health threats.
    “I applaud your continued dedication to improving the health and well-being of every person in this richly-diverse Region. With these words, I wish you ‘Health and ´Happiness’ and success during the week ahead.”

[full transcript, in English]

I really like this speech – I like that Mary is involved with gender equality and women’s rights, and how she is so consistent in her work with those issues. I also think this is a great example of how one can wears one’s hair down and not have it be a distraction, how one can look at one’s notes and not have it be a distraction, and how one can stumble on one’s words and not have it be a derailing issue.


Mary wore a Hugo Boss Bouclé two-in-one dress (which sold for $315), Prada pumps, and a Prada bag that retails for $2,730 (yikes).


28 thoughts on “Crown Princess Mary gives speech on women’s rights at WHO Regional Committee meeting

  1. Mary, on the whole, has done well in her support of Issues, Charity work etc. Despite being always very well turned out she makes sure that the lasting impression is on what she says and does rather than what she wears. Yes – she is older than Kate, but she was a similar age as Kate when she got married, and perhaps that fact that she had a career in her pre-Fred days has better prepared her for her current role than 10 years hanging around at home would do. I guess I see her as being “her own woman” making her mark.

    1. While I understand some of the criticism that she gets – that she can come across as cold or haughty, and that she spends a ridiculous amount of money on purses – I think her commitment to her causes is great. She is actually working with people and giving speeches and such.

      1. Yes – she is a shopper for sure ! I wonder if the demeanour is partially down to Danish being her second language – and apparently she still struggles to some extent with it – and that she is somewhat reserved as a result.

  2. I’ve always respected Mary’s enthusiasm and commitment towards her causes. I love her style, very rarely does she get it wrong. If you ever get the chance KMR It would be interesting to compare royal ladies and their spending habits on clothes as well as who repeats looks etc. to discover who is the biggest spendthrift vs thrifty royal.

  3. Love this speech. It’s a shame that we still have the need to talk about gender inequality in the 21st century. However, Mary os quite consistent in her message. She’s an example of how you can keep a cause as your focal point, yet support other initiatives too.

    Mary has worn some beautiful and some not so beautiful garments. However, her comportment is out of this world. I do like the whole outfit. It is simple, with clean lines and excellent tailoring. Mary also can deliver a good speech.

    This is where Kate frustrates me. She has peers in Europe to emulate and work with to do better in her role. She doesn’t need to be Max, Leti or Mary, she can just be Kate. And unfortunately, we don’t know who Kate is.

    Thank you, KMR, for sharing this speech and Mary.

    1. +1
      I love Mary’s speech specifically because she manages to shine a spotlight on other work she’s done and keep it relevant to this meeting. And the delivery is just perfect!

      1. Cathy, I like your assessment of Kate.
        Kate has never held down a job — other than the “wait” for William and doing all she could to make herself appear to be “the only one” for him. I really doubt that she knows much about who she really is. As a mum, I can see that she might get lost in that role when her kids are young. Yet, she has a full-time Nanny to ease the situation. So, it’s intriguing to me to wonder who she really is. Wonder if she even has the depth to ask that question of herself? P.S. I tried to post this below your comment Cathy. The same area where Lauri and Rhiannon replied, but it’s here. Sorry.

    2. I don’t know if Kate knows who Kate is?

      She’s been what her mother wants, what she thinks William wants, who is the real Kate?

      (I don’t think Kate is being who William wants to be married to, but she is being who she (and Carole possibly) thinks he wants -it can be a huge difference so I hope you all know what I mean?)

      1. I get exactly what you mean. I know that we change as we age or as we experience things. But, you are right, I don’t think Kate will ever be truly happy because of it. I hope that we get to see the real Kate at some point.

        1. What if we are seeing the real Kate now? There have been many times I’ve watched her at events and thought that she is probably doing the best she can. Either that or she’s a great actress who acts nervous and insecure in order to get out of doing anything that makes her uncomfortable. I just don’t know which it is.

          1. I think she is insecure because she doesn’t know who she is.
            I don’t think it’s a complete act, although she does use her insecurity at times to make others (men) “look after” her.

            In the photos that I have seen of Kate entering a room where an event is being held, she always seems naturally nervous and tense. I think that is real. I wish she’d work on that. I wish she would take advice from others and study the way other Royal ladies handle themselves. Leti, Mary, Victoria, Maddie, Charlene, Sophie and Camilla (and, of course HM) have a serene and natural appearance in public. Kate needs to develop that. You can’t stay a teen forever! Or, in her case, perhaps you can!

          2. Lauri, I used to think that but what if she is insecure because she knows she’s a little out of depth in real engagements but with Ben she’s more secure because what does she know how to do? Flirt, be that girl who in her eye got the golden egg.

          3. Kate comes across to me as fairly dull personality-wise, average across the board: she is still that grey child who no other child noticed at Deane.

            I think she’s that delusional kind of person who likes to think they are very talented, will be famous etc without much effort on her part. For example, Kate fancies herself as a photographer but as we have seen is little more than a snapper with expensive gear. Even in her Jigsaw days, she opined that she might open a photography gallery. Family money was there for her to do that, as well as pursue further degree level training, but she’s just not interested in the sheer grunt work associated with developing expertise. Similarly, she claimed to have had lessons with Oliviero Toscani, which was denied by him. Again, delusional: wanting attention but just can’t be arsed to do the work. And this is what we see today writ large on the public stage. It is evident in every public interaction. She is disinterested in everything around her except her own pleasure.

            Her mother in no uncertain terms used her eldest daughter to propel her own social ambitions, not through encouraging academic, social or sporting accomplishment but through Kate developing her sexuality. This was evident as a teenager at school with Kate linking popularity with exposure. And she was noticed, where nothing previously had won her attention. There’s not much of a leap to being on call to William.

            Unfortunately, the PR machine is charged with building her up so that she never has to take a good hard look at herself, even if she wanted to, which I doubt. The press follow with gushing praise: Style Icon! Caring Kate! etc etc I’m sure Kate is happy with what she’s ‘achieved’: massive attention, unlimited privilege and wealth. Now the little nouveau riche grey girl has it all over those aristos who once ignored her.

          4. +100
            CP Mary always a great role model!

            Totally over her head. Her, carol and family – the lack of sacrifice and giving back – believe royalty representing the people, funded by the people was is playing dress up, wealth and vacations as the middletons had during the decade of waity gf years, with POW funding willnot luxury life. Cannot the university simpleton at willnot beck and call ….no desire to work or a career, believethe lack of accountability would continu.

  4. I just watched the video and wow CP Mary knows her stuff!!! Very impressive!! She is quite an excellent public speaker and when she got rattled by a few missteps she managed to correct it and continue on as though nothing happened. Her posture and poise during her speech really spoke to the confidence she has, the confidence that she knows what she’s talking about and the confidence that she can help make a difference.

    I’m really surprised that this is a dress, it sure doesn’t look like it. I love the simplicity of it and the neutral shoes and bag, underscore that simplicity. Again, her posture and poise is wonderful and while it’s not quite as good as Leti’s (but then whose is) she does inspire me to stand up straight, shoulders back, chin up 🙂 Today, what she wore was really secondary to what she had to offer and what she had to say. As much as I love to see what the various royal ladies are wearing, it is nice to allow the fashion to take a backseat and focus more on what is being said and done and how these royal women use their position to make a difference in the world.

    Thanks KMR for such an inspiring post!!

  5. Oh, my gosh. Mr. Rhiannon, Happy Birthday to you! And, to Rhiannon, I hope when your chocolates arrive from the recent bet we had here, you share with him. Until then, a little cake? Some champagne? We toast you and your Prince!

    1. I don’t share my chocolate with many people, but I will with Harry…as long as he stays away from the sea salt and almond ones. We would surely have a beautiful day today. I would try to whip up a meal (definitely not cheese toast) and take a nice walk.

      1. Rhiannon, you need to forget Godiva and look into Fran’s!! So much better. You should try their sea salt caramels. If you have a whole foods near you they sell them or always online=)

  6. Really like this speech! Important points made and information shared – I really like it when you know what a Royal stands for and when you see them to continue to care about a cause and keep working on it. The work of the Royal is not done by showing up once or giving a short speech and people can see when someone is not prepared or does not care in long run. So respect for Mary, and others, for the work they do.

    I also like her outfit. It’s professional , fits the engagement and doesn’t steel the show, right as it should be! And also her body language… she looks like someone who is confident and knows what she wants. And though not all people or born public speakers or like the attention, to be prepared , informed, and caring makes a huge difference. And some things you only learn over years and if you try. Unfortunately some don’t really seem to care and to try…

  7. Mary’s outfit and hair remind me so much of the way Kate was dressed on her HuffPo day, but Mary pulls the whole look off with so much more class. Lauri from CA has sure got me observing other people’s posture & body language, and I love how warm & open & confident Mary looks! I cant wait to watch the video of her speech later. Thanks again KMR for always giving a spotlight to the other royal families. The comparison surely does Kate no favors.

  8. I’ve always liked Mary. I didn’t know about the criticisms though. Very classy and her posture is fantastic!

    Did y’all see William visited a youth club?

    I can’t believe Harry turned 32!

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