Speech by the Women's representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Speech by the Women’s Representative

of the Kingdom of the Netherlands,

Clarice Massa Dequin Gargard.

NEW YORK, Monday 7 October 2019

Greetings honorary attendees,

My name is Clarice Massa Dequin Gargard. I am a journalist, social advocate and the Dutch Kingdom’s UN Women’s representative.

I am not here to lecture you on how women should be equal. That is a given. I am here to tell you: it is time to change the system that has decided we (and so many others) are not.

I should introduce myself properly, because a lot of what I have to say stems from where I come from. My family is from Liberia. I was born in the United States. And raised in the Netherlands.

My lineage is that of strong women who have survived war when the men with guns came. Poverty, when they didn’t have the right papers, education, sexe or social standing. Racism when they escaped those men with guns and fled to countries. With others who decided that they were not enough. Because of the hue of their skin.

Because of what they survived; I. Am. Here.

Therefore, I have not only been inspired to speak my mind for change. But I‘ve the obligation to. And though not everyone might listen. You will still hear me.

For too long the majority of the world lives impoverished, while the minority feasts. Often on what was taken from that majority

For too long we have put the worth of money over the welfare of people

For too long we have sat idly by and watched our world crumble under the weight of our consumption

Those who suffer the most under capitalism, poverty, inequality and climate crisis are women and the most marginalized amongst us. In impoverished countries, lgbti, from the working class, with disabilities.

The system works for a few with money and power. More than they. Their children. Or even their children’s children could ever need. The time has come to change the system to work for all of us. Or none at all.

In my function I have spoken to people who fight for human rights. In organizations, activist groups, governments and media. Who work hard and tireless to create a better world by dedicating their lives to….

…Eliminating child marriages, educating the youth, combating discrimination, changing policy, hearts and minds. They have thought me it is possible to be an ordinary person and do extraordinary things

But their goals are impossible to achieve. If we don’t also change the system that allows for these malfunctions to exist in the first place

I know changing the way things are isn’t easy. But it is even more impossible to maintain the old world as it is.

Change might be painful. As, saying goodbye to things we’ve outgrown usually is.

But I am here to remind you. All of us. That changing the way things are is not something that is done to you. It is done for you. When we better the lives of those who suffer the most, we better the lives of us all

And why would you not want to make the world a better place for everyone? Unless you profit from the fact that it isn’t. Like some - even within this institute -  undoubtedly do.

The system is not some undefeatable thing. It is a monster of our own creation. A collection of thoughts and actions that decide who is in power and who gets to be human or not.

That’s why 26 people own as much as the poorest half of the world. And we or rather you have done nothing about it.

As a young girl I decided that I don’t want to live in a world where women fighting for survival is seen as a virtue. As if being worthy of living is something you earn.

As a grown woman, I am telling you that many brave women and girls have made the same decision. And the change has already begun. It is up to You. If you want to be part of that future. Or….Left….Behind.