…these are people who are fleeing their homes and have to walk five days with their children to get a place where they hope they can get a better life. That's real courage.
Earlier this year, our global CEO, Helle Thorning-Schmidt paid a visit to Australia and along the way inspired her audiences with a positive, but pragmatic take on foreign aid, growing global inequality, and the need to step up and protect children of the world.
The former Danish Prime Minister spoke to a packed room at the School of Life in Sydney, urging people to stand up for the world’s most vulnerable populations. The following excerpt from this talk illustrates her dedication to improving the lives of children everywhere.
I admire the girls that break free and insist they want an education in a family where there hasn’t been an education for girls in generations. And girls that say, ‘I’m not going to marry this guy. I’m 15 and I want an education.’ That is true courage.
I feel very, very lucky that I had the opportunity to work with that amazing organisation [Save the Children]. We basically fight for three things. All children should not die from a disease that we could have prevented before they turned five. We should do better than that, and it is possible. All children should have a right to quality education. And all children should live without violence, be protected. That is what we fight for. And we want to have a clear focus on the most deprived children. Who are the most deprived children? Well they’re often poor children, and that’s in every community in the world. In Denmark, in Australia, everywhere there are poor children. But what is striking is that they’re not only poor. A lot of the most deprived children, they have a toxic cocktail of being poor and also discriminated against. I visited an Aboriginal community in Ceduna two days back and it’s very clear this is their problem as well. So we want to put a spotlight on that and help those children.
And I’m very honoured to be serving children and actually serving them in a way where I really feel we could be part of change in the world. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t feel that we could make a difference. But I feel that just for the Syria conflict, wouldn’t it be amazing? I don’t know, I can’t make peace in Syria. And I can’t even be a part of creating a ceasefire. But maybe we could agree between the warring parties that they shouldn’t bomb hospitals and schools. That they should get humanitarian access to some of those children. That they should not recruit children as soldiers in some of these militias. If we could just agree on those four things we would have come a long way.
I don’t consider myself courageous; I’ve met some people who are fantastically courageous. I mean these are people who are fleeing their homes and have to walk five days with their children to get a place where they hope they can get a better life. That’s real courage. Malala, who spoke up after she was shot because she wanted to go to school – that is real courage. So I don’t want to mix my courage up with other people’s. But I think we can all take inspiration from other people’s courage and use it in our daily lives.”
The above excerpt was published in Dumbo Feather Magazine Issue 51.