Buongiorno a tutti and thank you to the organisers for this amazing day and for the invitation on stage.
My name is Clara Mavellia. 30 years ago, I came to Germany from Milan in Italy to write my doctorate. When the Berlin Wall came down, I couldn’t go back. It was too exciting to take part in that history and to be part of shaping it – and it still is. Since my daughter was born, I have been the mother of a Berliner who went to an international school here, who knows three languages and cultures, and who has friends all over the world.
Cultural and emotional exchange enriches life and broadens our sometimes one-sided horizons.
Once a friend from Italy came to stay and we were showing her around. After a while she said: “Ausfahrt must be a big place. It’s on every sign. Strange, I’ve never heard of it?!”
I was perplexed, until it occurred to me that in Italy the exit signs on the motorway always tell you the name of the nearest town, rather than just saying “Ausfahrt”, sortie, uscita, exit. We soon sorted out that misunderstanding, but who knows how many differences like that there are all over Europe that can also lead to misunderstandings. So it really is an advantage – as well as fun – to spend some time in another culture.
According to statistics published by the WHO a few weeks ago, Italians live the longest, healthiest lives. Meanwhile, the OECD says that Germany has the highest numbers of PhDs in the world. It seems fair to conclude that exchange between these countries would do us all good by bringing body and mind into harmony. We should get together!
All of us in Europe should choose a particular theme or area where we can cherish and promote our values – humanist values, human rights, the rights of people with disabilities – and our history, art and culture.
Today I would like to call for a March of Women for Europe. We certainly know that populists and dictators like Trump, Putin, Erdogan don’t care tuppence for women’s rights. Quite the reverse: they are making life especially hard for women – look at Trump’s attitudes, or what happened recently in Russia, where they abolished the law protecting women from domestic violence! And we all know what Erdogan thinks about women’s issues.
So it’s important for us as women in Europe to champion human rights, democracy, peace, equal pay and so forth. Men are welcome. Anyone who would like to help us to organise this, please get in touch after the event.
I wish all of us a great day – in Europe and across the world. Thank you!