Educating Young Women: UNESCO Director-General and new Executive Director of UNFPA Share a Common Agenda
Meeting for the first time on 28 February 2011, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Populations Fund, underlined the importance of girls’ and women’s education for meeting human development challenges.
Appointed in January 2011, Dr Osotimehin, a former Minister of Health of Nigeria, stressed that “education was the most important intervention to attain human development”. He expressed commitment to work with UNESCO to “take forward the focus on young people,” to give them “space and voice,” and to strengthen cooperation in the fields of sexuality education and reproductive rights and health. He stressed that these programmes had to be linked with economic empowerment and political inclusion in order to draw political support and funding.
The Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s role in promoting education to sustain progress towards all the Millennium Development Goals, and the importance of focusing on girls’ secondary education. She drew attention to forthcoming initiatives targeting adolescent girls and to the Organization’s work with education ministries to put in place sound policies.
Dr Osotimehin recognized the importance of these interventions, noting that domestic resources could only be mobilized around a national policy framework that had broad buy-in from government and civil society, in synergy with the United Nations and the donor community.