Peng Liyuan, UNESCO Special Envoy, calls on the international community to rescue Nigerian schoolgirls

Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of the People's Republic of China and UNESCO Special Envoy for advancing girls’ and women’s education, condemns the abduction of schoolgirls in Nigeria and calls on the international community to make every effort to rescue the abducted students, in a letter to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

The Director-General condemned the abduction on 13 May, while speaking at the Global Education for All Meeting, held in Muscat, Oman. Stressing the need to educate all children, she called the abduction “an unacceptable violation of human rights”, and urged greater cooperation among Member States on educational needs. 

Expressing her shock at the abduction, the First Lady emphasizes that “the girls’ safety and right to education should be protected”. “Students are our future, and schools are places where our children learn, grow and pursue their dreams,” she writes. 

“As a mother, I understand the anxiety and worries of their families. As UNESCO Special Envoy for Advancing Girls’ and Women’s Education, I call on the international community to make every effort to rescue them and have them back home and to school safe and sound,” she adds. 

The abductions in Nigeria are the latest in a string of increasing cases of deliberate attacks against schools, teachers and students, especially against girls’ education, in countries across the world. 

In March 2014, Peng Liyuan was nominated as a UNESCO Special Envoy in recognition “of her commitment to empowering girls and women through quality education, her outstanding contribution to fighting inequalities in education, her devoted service to human development and creativity, and her dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization.” 

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