31.05.2011 - ODG

Director-General strengthens cooperation with Israel

© UNESCO - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Shimon Peres, President of Israel, during her first official visit to the country on 29 May 2011

On her first official visit to Israel from 29 to 30 May 2011, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met with President Shimon Peres, as well as with other high-level Israeli Government officials such as Daniel Hershkowitz, Minister of Science and Technology, Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Education, Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport, Yona Yahav, Mayor of Haifa, and Ambassador Eviatar Manor, Head of the Division for the UN and International Organizations of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

During the meeting she held with President Peres, the Director-General evoked the longstanding fruitful cooperation between UNESCO and Israel notably in the fields of Holocaust education, bioethics, water science and gender equality.

The Director-General and President Peres stressed in particular the crucial importance of gender equality to achieve sustainable development. “The advancement of a society is judged by equal rights of women” emphasized the President. “As long as societies discriminate women, they will not evolve and come out of poverty.” President Peres and Irina Bokova emphasized that academic education should be actively pursued for all women in order for them to enlarge their choices and opportunities, as well as to empower them to educate their children for a better future.

Irina Bokova underscored her strong commitment to support education and training for women and girls which was the purpose of her visit to Israel upon the invitation of the Golda Meir-Mount Carmel Training Centre celebrating its 50th anniversary under UNESCO's auspices. President Peres also shared his ideas to further strengthen UNESCO-Israel cooperation notably in the area of nanotechnologies; communication and information, emphasizing in this respect the need to sustain civil society and the non-governmental sector, including social networks. In this context, he stressed the need for world leaders to re-think their approach to leadership in a more inclusive manner.

In her meeting with the Minister of education, the Director-General congratulated Mr Gideon Sa'ar, for his ground-breaking reform of the education sector in particular targeting High school in the area of teacher training and also with a view to enhancing technical and vocational education and training. The link between education and the industry has also been underscored in order to establish innovative partnerships for research.

Avenues for enhancing UNESCO-Israel cooperation in the field of sciences and technology for Africa were also discussed with Professor Daniel Hershkowitz, Minister of Science and Technology, building on Israel's Research and Development centres already established in sub-Saharan Africa, notably harnessing local research and countering brain-drain.

During her visit, the Director-General also paid a visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial to lay a wreath in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. She emphasized that “the duty of History is to remember, to document, to research, and to educate” and that “the importance of Yad Vashem lies in providing testimony of History and in standing witness for the future.”

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