Members of the diplomatic corps from more than 20 nations participated in a unique fashion show in aid of girls in the Indian capital. The "Ray of Hope" was a fund-raiser, and a joint initiative with the German Embassy.
They were not tall, svelte, professional models. But the way they sashayed up and down the catwalk, flaunting their chic designer wear to the accompaniment of popular English and Hindi tunes certainly gave the impression that they were no strangers to the business.
Diplomats espouse noble cause
In a show of support and solidarity for India's female children, the diplomatic community gathered at the rambling lawns of the German Embassy on Saturday for the “Ray of Hope” fashion show fund-raiser - a joint initiative by the German Embassy and the Earth Foundation.
“This is a great event and the cause is worthy indeed. The girl child must not be discriminated against and must be given all opportunities,” gushed Diana Alipova, wife of the deputy chief of mission of the Russian Embassy, who got a loud applause after her walk on the runway.
Germany's acting Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt, who also took to the stage along with his wife Gladys Abankwa-Meier-Klodt and daughter Kyra, were equally enthusiastic about the event that saw a record turnout.
“The girl child should be given a chance for a life,” Gladys Abankwa, dressed in a striking blue chiffon sari, told Deutsche Welle. A native of Ghana, she has taken part in diplomatic charity fashion shows before and incidentally met her husband at a one such program at the Spanish ambassador's residence in Ghana years ago.
Lise Frederiksen, wife of the ambassador of Denamrk, Freddy Svane, scorched the stage in a pink ensemble by designer Namrata Joshipura. Other head-turners were Anita and Chandradath Singh from Trinidad and Tobago, who swayed down the ramp to Caribbean music.
Geeti Bhagat, vice chairman of the NGO Earth Foundation, emphasized that the international community had come forward without hesitation for the initiative.
"The money raised from the event will be directed towards Earth Foundation and projects focusing on launching our program for a million self-reliant girls. These steps are important," Bhagat told Deutsche Welle.
Grim future for the girl child
Female feticide and infanticide are not the only threats girls face in India.
“At every stage of life she is discriminated and neglected for basic nutrition, education and living standard,” Bhagat added.
It is believed that every year 12 million girls are born in the country but unfortunately only a third of that number survives. Some are killed in the womb, some at the time of birth, some die due to ill health and some due to poor nutrition.
Newly released United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) data for 150 countries over 40 years shows that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality is higher than male infant mortality in the 21st century.
A ray of hope?
Germany has frequently supported the rights of the child, especially girls.
“We hope these events help in spreading awareness of the girl child and ensure a better life for her,” said Cord Meier-Klodt.
Since the 2000 Millennium Summit, Germany has spent well over half of its bilateral development cooperation funds to promote projects which have a proven to have a positive impact on gender equality.
The other countries whose diplomats participated in the event were Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago and Turkey.
Author: Murali Krishnan
Editor: Sarah Berning