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16 / 07 / 2004
Queen Sofia: “Microcredits should be given out to all of society to improve social conditions”

The Dialogue “Poverty, Microcredits and Development” opened with debate sessions focusing on the idea that granting financial resources to women and the poor in developing countries improve their quality of life because it enables them to manage their economy, to feed themselves and dress better, to put their children in school, and maybe even send them to university. Moreover, it gives them greater autonomy over their life and boosts their self-esteem.

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The opening session of the “Poverty, Microcredits and Development” dialogue, which is being held from July 15 to 18 at the Convention Center, brought together figures including Queen Sofia; the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, Josep Montilla; and the president of the Catalan Autonomous Government, Pasqual Maragall. Their speeches raised the debate on the benefits of granting microcredits to the poor and needy, especially in developing countries. They all mentioned the need to continue to carry out this project and to allocate more funds to it.

Queen Sofia argued that microcredits should be given out to all of society to improve the conditions people live in and give them the chance to develop their businesses, which are a link in the chain. She also explained that this project has sparked a veritable revolution in those societies where it has been launched, thanks to the social and cultural changes it has lead to. These changes have boosted the self-esteem of those who previously had no resources and have given them dignity. Queen Sofia concluded by stating that microcredits contribute to development.

The minister for Industry, Tourism and Commerce, Josep Montilla, pointed out that microcredits have become increasingly important in developing countries and that Spain, which contributes €200 million a year, has been granting them since 1998.

As regards the improvements in the societies receiving these microcredits, Pasqual Maragall stated that “the aim is to build bridges between two worlds that do not know each other: the world of money and the world of need. This financial aid serves to break down the barriers between the dominated world and the dominating world.” Maragall mentioned that individualism is not very efficient and that we should not have blind faith in macroeconomic results as indicators of happiness, but instead, we should promote sustainability by reducing poverty.

Joan Clos, the mayor of Barcelona and the president of the Forum, stated that these financial resources, which have been in place for 25 years, required a change in society’s mentality in order for them to work. Clos argued that “microcredits do not work in all societies, as there are some in which the conditions of the neoconservative paradigm do not work and, therefore, this aid doe not make it possible to spark the economic cycle.”

The Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, spoke of the connection between microcredits and the reduction in literacy and poverty. She mentioned that 21 percent of the population lives on a dollar per day and that there are 1 billion illiterate people in the world. “Microcredits are a tool for improving the life of those who receive them and make it possible for their children to go to school, and even continue on to university, thus giving them the opportunity to train to become professionals such as doctors and lawyers.”

The Grand Duchess Maria Teresa also expressed her satisfaction with the positive results that microcredits are having and the ideas about these resources that are being discussed. As an example, she said that 2005 has been declared World Microcredit Year, which was discussed at the last G-8 summit and that at the roundtable held in Luxemburg in March of 2003, representatives of the Luxemburg Ministry for Economy Cooperation met to discuss this.