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Fashion 4 Development: Speech at Luncheon

Speech given by Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess at First Ladies Fashion 4 Development Luncheon in New York 25 September 2012.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here to celebrate the beauty of giving women a voice - to express themselves and to help them better their lives and the lives of those they love. That is what Fashion 4 Development represents.

While fashion is for most people not the first thing that springs to mind when discussing poverty alleviation, Fashion 4 Development has shown what a powerful tool it can be.

That is why we are gathered here today: Because we know that fashion matters.

And we know that charity alone does not promote sustainable development – what is often needed is having a professional business with a sustainable income to grow and improve.

We also know that women around the world have been able to send their children to school because their products have reached a global market.

It is not an easy task, though. Both for the producers of products in developing countries – and for the people in the developed world who want to make a difference.

Today I want to introduce to you one of many of those pioneering in this field – the fashion designer Leila Hafzi.

15 years ago, a dream was born: Leila wanted to intergrate ethical- and eco-concious production into high-end fashion.

Her desire was to empower women in developing countries - and maybe even inspire the fashion industry into a global shift.

In 1997, Leila Hafzi left Norway for Nepal to follow her dream and her vision. She lost her heart to local crafts and artisans, and to a country struggling to find it’s footing in a fast-changing world. She wanted to find out how she could improve the situation for women who were being held back by societal challenges, giving them a livelihood and a platform for a fair income and thereby a more emancipated life.

The Norwegian brand LEILAHAFZI has engaged 150 uneducated women in production of knitwear.

Mothers – who would otherwise have had to partly rely on their children’s contribution to the family economy - were given the financial liberty to see their children continue school and gain an education they often were deprived of.

Not only has Leila realised success in helping and enabling these extraordinary women, she has also realised fashion success. And that is what this industry needs, strong business women who have the courage to make dreams happen.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Fashion 4 Development with their achievements – in particular Evie Evangelou and my dear friend Franca Sozzani for their tireless effort to make the fashion industry more sustainable.

Thank you!


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