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Princess of Denmark learns from South African youth

PRETORIA, South Africa — Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Denmark listened to young people speaking about the challenges they face in South Africa and UNFPA-supported government interventions to respond to some of these challenges, in Pretoria on 5 November.

The Princess, accompanied by a Danish delegation that included the Danish Ambassador to South Africa, René Dinesen, met UNFPA staff members and members of the Youth Advisory Panel.

UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia highlighted the crucial support Denmark provides to UNFPA globally, contributing to the acceleration and promotion of the ICPD agenda. In 2013 Denmark, which ranks among UNFPA’s top five donors, contributed more than $40 million to the Fund.

From left: UNFPA South Africa Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia, Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Denmark, and Ambassador of Denmark in South Africa René Dinesen. Photo: UNFPA / Livia Maurizi

Princess Mary of Denmark said the purpose of the visit was to gain knowledge: “We are here to learn from South Africa, to bring back home some of the lessons learned and to explore ways to collaborate.”

She listened to young South Africans discuss the challenges they experience in South Africa, as well as interventions that the government, with UNFPA’s support, has implemented to help address the ongoing needs of South Africa’s growing body of youth. The discussion touched on the factors contributing to teenage pregnancy, the availability of family planning, access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and violence experienced by young women. Theseyoung people have worked closely with UNFPA to provide guidance on UNFPA's support to the government and other partners on adolescent and youth work.

Dr. Muia and the Danish Delegation, including the Danish Minister of Trade and Cooperation, Mogens Jensen, visited the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre . The project, funded by Vodacom and managed by the Department of Social Development, is one of the most important examples of private-public partnership in the context of gender-based violence in South Africa. Its main objective is to help the Department become more responsive in providing services and support to victims of gender-based violence. On a walkabout tour of the centre, social workers shared their experiences.

The Department of Social Development Deputy Director-General, Nelisiwe Vilakazi, emphasized the value of projects such as this one that innovatively integrate and coordinate a harmonized approach to mitigating the impact of gender-based violence.

UNFPA stressed the importance of government leadership and coordination as essential to move the GBV agenda forward, in partnership with the private sector. UNFPA is currently strengthening its collaboration with the private sector, and especially aims to introduce innovation to improve the living conditions of South Africans. 

- Livia Maurizi