My name is Beate Wedekind. I have been a journalist promoting the empowerment of young women for many years now. Then the W20 Summit in Berlin happened, and I lost it.
Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is the one who invited Ivanka Trump to the W20 Summit, and it was a smart move. The discussion was geared towards women's issues and was attended by some of the most powerful female business leaders in the world. Articles and comments on Ivanka flooded in almost instantaneously. The media, and social media alike, went ham on this news and one can undoubtably say that the Women's Conference in Germany has never gotten this much recognition.
Isn't that a sad commentary on modern society though? Do we need a controversial figure to get press coverage on a conference that aims to emphasize the fact that the global stabilization of economies and societies will only be achieved through the empowerment and economic equality of women?
I really don't think that Ivanka's comments elevated the conversation amongst these inspiring and powerful women in any way, shape, or form. One empty phrase after the other. A song of praise for her father, who she blindly calls a women's advocate and also says is a fair business man who proved that he supports women. At some points, Ivanka overdid it so much that we, the audience, reacted with booing. And yes, my participation in booing her came with deep conviction. I might even have been the loudest. It wasn't as much about what she said, but that she had the audacity to use this important conference to campaign for her father.
My participation in booing her came with deep conviction. I might even have been the loudest.
The fact that the attendance of the first daughter diverted the attention from the important topics of the W20 Summit, as well as the more interesting attendees, is not only embarrassing, but also damages the reputation of this conference.
What about the young African tech entrepreneur, Juliana Rotich from Kenya, who passionately fights for the recognition of women's potential in third world countries?
Or the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, who, among other things, supports the US office of the Financial Times as a journalist?
What about Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, who, prior to her marriage, was a successful international banker? She came to the W20 Summit, not as royalty, but as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development? She enriched the panel with her contributions.
My personal highlight of the event was the banter between the excellent host Miriam Meckel (publisher of WirtschaftsWoche), Angela Merkel, the other women on the podium.
The host asked the Chancellor: "Are you a feminist?"
Angela Merkel started off with assessing her own social situation before she came to her conclusion and answered, "I don't want to adorn myself with the feathers of feminism."
Queen Maxima said, "I think a feminist is someone who strives for a world wherein all women get the opportunity to be happy and proud of themselves."
And with an impish smile Merkel added, "Then I'm a feminist, too."
Beate Wedekind is a journalist, the cofounder of German ELLE, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Bunte. All opinions are her own.