18 NOVEMBER 2004
There was a distinctly aristocratic feel to the United Nations headquarters in New York this week when two of Europe’s leading royals jetted in for a visit. Princess Mathilde of Belgium and Princess Maxima of the Netherlands met up in the Big Apple in an effort to help some of the world’s poorest communities.
Both women attended a gala event to launch the International Year of Microcredit on Wednesday evening. The United Nations is aiming to step up the fight against poverty next year, by offering small loans to would-be entrepreneurs in impoverished countries.
"A very small loan can change people's lives by enabling them to generate their own income with all the positive consequences that entails," explained Maxima. The 33-year-old argued that microcredits were one of the most effective ways of fighting poverty. “Let us not forget that a dollar earned is worth much more than a dollar received as a donation," she affirmed.
Mathilde meanwhile emphasised the role these loans can play in fighting sexual inequality. "The Year of Microcredit will highlight how women's talents and innovation, together with access to credit and savings, can give them the power to make long term investments in their families, communities, and their children's lives," she said.
The two women are not the only glamorous stars throwing their weight between the UN’s plans. Queen Rania of Jordan will also be acting as an emissary for the project, while veteran singer Enrique Iglesias is on the board of advisors.
1. The two royals admire a poncho given to Nan Annan, the wife of UN Secretary General Kofi
2. Mathilde (left) and Maxima are both backing the United Nation's new campaign to combat poverty
3. Indonesian singer Anggun greets the visitors