The 15th Francophonie Summit opened today in Dakar, under the theme “Women and Children in the Francophonie: Peacemakers and Key-players for Development”.
The inaugural session began with a heartfelt plea from President Macky Sall in favor of universal human rights and education:
"La Francophonie is an expression of our shared commitment to universal values of freedom, democracy and human rights," he said, recalling also the role of quality education to fight against extremism, violence, and for development in a sustainable way:
"Francophonie is also about mobility in education, research and higher education.”
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, attended the opening session where she spoke on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
"Women and young people together represent a large majority of the world's population, yet it often happens that their interests are put aside and that their voice is not heard," she said, emphasizing the considerable progress that has been made in recent years in relation to girls' access to primary education and political representation of women. "But this change is far too slow and uneven." She went on to say that when women and young people benefit of support of effective policy, everyone reaps the rewards.
The Summit also paid a special tribute to President Adou Diouf, Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), whose third and final term ends this year.
In his address, the President of the French Republic stated: "Here in Dakar, the new conference center bears your name, and around the world, your name carries with it all the values of democracy.”
"President Abdou Diouf showed that La Francophonie is not only based on a language, but a multicultural and multilingual project," said the Director-General. "It is this vision of the world that makes your movement reach far beyond the borders of the Francophone world," added Irina Bokova.
Closing the morning session, Secretary General Abdou Diouf, by way of goodbye, said: "The biggest threat today is not terrorism, nor Ebola or the crisis, the greatest threat, is to abandon solidarity, it is to fall back into personal interests -- La Francophonie is able to respond today by the strength of its shared language, the language that gives meaning to a world in need of sense."