5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Opening Ceremony

Special Event
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
11:00 to 13:10

The Opening Ceremony will officially launch the 12th edition of the European Development Days.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, will give the Opening Address, highlighting this year’s overarching theme “Women and Girls at the Forefront of Sustainable Development: protect, empower, invest”.
At his side Royalties, leading Heads of States and international decision-makers will present their vision for promoting and implementing gender equality. An open dialogue will also focus on the unprecedented initiative launched by the European Union and the United Nations aiming at eliminating violence against women at the global level: the Spotlight Initiative.
Renowned artists Angélique Kidjo and Youssou N'Dour will offer a unique musical moment on this occasion.

Key points

  • The struggle for gender equality requires new approaches; business as usual is no longer an option.
  • The world cannot afford to leave half of its potential unused as it seeks to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Gender equality is not only about rights for women, but enriches entire communities.
  • Despite great efforts over decades, women remain the main victims of violence around the world.


Gender equality is by its nature a precondition for meeting all other SDGs. Without it, they will either not be reached, or will remain fragile. Gender equality is an enabler for many other critical development issues, from mental health to education and economic development.

For too long, development policy has treated gender equality either as an issue of human rights or an issue for women and girls who are expected to take leadership. At the policy level, it is still almost exclusively women who are driving the kinds of change required to make societies more equal and equitable, with men frequently sidestepping the issue instead of making change happen.

But just as full gender equality will benefit entire communities and societies, by making them more inclusive and just, so it is entire communities and societies that must work towards it. This includes men and boys, who must be engaged as human beings, as fathers, sons or partners, and as social and political actors. Empowering women


While it is critical to understand and address the systemic underpinnings of gender inequality, actions by individuals – both men and women – are also important to create more inclusive and just societies.

Organised by


Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission
European Commission
Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians
Her Majesty the Queen of Spain
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca
Roch Marc Christian Kabore
Burkina Faso
George Manneh Weah
Erna Solberg
Prime Minister, Norway
Amina J. Mohammed
Deputy Secretary-General
United Nations
Antonio Tajani
President of the European Parliament
European Parliament
Angélique Kidjo
Goodwill Ambassador
UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)
Youssou N'Dour
Artist, Composer and Business Leader
Super Etoile , GFM
Jaha Dukureh
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Africa
UN Women
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Executive Director
UN Women
Hakima Abbas
Co-Executive Director
Association for Women's Rights in Development
Abhijit Das
Neven Mimica
Commissioner for International Cooperation & Development
European Commission