Queen Maxima wins applause, Ivanka Trump jeered at women's economic summit

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands with tech founder Juliana Rotich
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives her closing remarks at the W20 Germany conference with tech founder Juliana Rotich listening. Apr. 25, 2017image: W20 Germany

With reporting by Janene Pieters.

Dutch Queen Maxima joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF director Christine Lagarde, and "First Daughter" of the United States Ivanka Trump at the Women20 Summit in Berlin on Tuesday afternoon. The group was met with mixed reactions from the audience throughout the 90 minute panel discussion, particularly when many avoided being called a "feminist," something Merkel described as a label that creates a sense of exclusion to men in society.

It was Maxima who changed the town of the conversation, instead saying that she is a "feminist" if the definition of the word means "wanting equal rights" as well as freedom of choice. This drew applause from the audience, with Merkel saying, "Then I am one."

For her part in the discussion on “Inspiring women: Scaling up women’s entrepreneurship”, Maxima drew attention to the importance of digital literacy in advancing women's inclusion in the labour market and access to leadership positions. She called on the world's telecommunications providers to also be more responsive to women's needs. 

The discussion is focused on the opportunities and challenges female entrepreneurs face and ways to improve women's economic position worldwide. It led Merkel to promote the idea of a credit facility sponsored by the full G20 to further promote entrepreneurship ventures undertaken by women in developing nations.

The idea clearly resonated with Lagarde. "Let's ensure women's empowerment is discussed at the G20 not just at W20," she said. "In all societies there is a bonus in having women joining the economy."

Earlier, Trump was booed at the event, with some in the audience jeering when she identified her father, U.S. President Donald Trump, as a "tremendous champion of supporting families." She was speaking about the lack of paid family leave in the U.S., and praised her father as an advocate for women in this arena. She continued, saying, “As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level knowing that he encouraged me and enabled me to thrive.”

The panel included Chrystia Freeland, the foreign affairs minister for Canada, Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman at Bank of America, German business leader Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller and Kenyan tech founder Juliana Rotich.

The panel forms part of the G20 Women20 Summit held in Berlin this week. The G20 is an annual summit between the 20 most important economies in the world. It was created during the Asia crisis in 1999, with the goal of brining the leading industrial countries and emerging countries together. Its importance was again realized in the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent global recession. Today it is seen as one of the most important consultative bodies for the international economy, according to the newspaper.