04.07.2017 - GENDER

UNESCO's Soft Power Today: Fostering Women's Empowerment and Leadership

On 30 June 2017, UNESCO inaugurated in Paris the first of a series of thematic events on UNESCO’s Soft Power with a high-level conference titled: UNESCO's Soft Power Today: Fostering Women's Empowerment and Leadership.

First of its kind, this High-level Conference gathered over 50 high-level personalities, engaging leaders and change-makers from different sectors and backgrounds to contribute their visions and perspectives to UNESCO’s reflections to contribute to the sustainable development agenda and particularly to women’s empowerment and leadership.

The day started with an opening session, moderated by Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of the Division for Gender Equality of UNESCO, and included keynote speeches to set the tone of the day by Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, H.E. Ms Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, H.E. Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates, H.E. Ms Rula Ghani, First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, H.E. Ms Tarja Halonen, Former President of the Republic of Finland, H.E. Ms Teresa Fernández de la Vega, Former First Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Spain and President of the Fundación Mujeres por África, and Mr Mohamed Hmayen Bouamatou, Conference Sponsor, Founder and President of the Fondation pour l'égalité des chances en Afrique. As H.E. Ms Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta stated “We must confront the underlying discrimination and injustice, which are undermining the dignity of women and girls around the world, and thereby, restrict women and girls from equal participation in our societies.”

The high-level conference also featured parallel sessions on the main themes related to women’s empowerment: education, peace and security, women’s leadership in the private and public sectors, and the importance of breaking gender stereotypes. In these parallel sessions, the participants presented the state of the art through their experiences and work, discussed the challenges and innovative solutions towards the 2030 horizon and provided recommendations on UNESCO’s role in promoting Gender Equality in the years to come.

In the closing session, keynote speeches were delivered by H.R.H. Princess Dana Firas, President of the Petra National Trust (Jordan), H.E. Ms Aminata Touré, Special Envoy of the President and Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal and Ms Tzipi Livni, Former Foreign Minister of the State of Israel and Member of the Knesset. Ms Irina Bokova also gave some closing remarks where she stated: “Sustainable development is not an abstract concept: it is a very concrete reality, with the face of a girl who is now 12 years old, who lives and learns safely, who is respected in school and in her family, and who is not forced to marry or work. If these conditions are met for this girl, tomorrow we will have sustainable development. UNESCO can act, and UNESCO must act to give her the rights, training and skills to become whatever she desires.”

This conference was also the opportunity to read a statement on UNESCO’s Promise Gender Equality. Building on its wealth of experience and using its Soft Power, UNESCO is determined to scale up existing initiatives and good practices that have been successfully implemented in the course of the last decade; while at the same time identify new areas, new approaches and new modalities that have the potential to deliver substantial results in the field of women’s empowerment in the years to come.

If you would like to see pictures of the event, please click here: Opening & Closing

UNESCO also organized a high-level conference on May 2016 in Sofia, Bulgaria, entitled, Global Women Leaders’ Forum that gathered together women leaders from all sectors and across the world.

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