Educating Girls, Empowering Women, Transforming Societies

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova advocated for investment in girls’ education during a discussion with Australian private sector executives hosted by the CEO Institute in Sydney on 13 November 2014.

The CEO Institute provides support to the Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, making it the   first privately owned organization in Australia to have a partnership with UNESCO.

“This is the best and most strategic investment a company can make, one that carries enormous multiplier effects on the economy, health, social mobility, the environment and poverty alleviation,” said Ms Bokova. “Investing in education is a smart investment, one that is good for business and that boosts the morale of company employees.”

Ms Bokova informed the audience about UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls and Women’s Education, the Business Backs Education Global Campaign with GEMS Education, and the Framework for Business Engagement in Education.

Drawing attention to attacks on education and the impact of conflict situations, especially on girls, Ms Bokova stated that the attribution of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi sends a message that “education is a human right imperative, a development imperative and a peace imperative.”

She also underlined that “the global learning crisis violates human rights, undermines social cohesion, threatens stability and creates a lost generation that cannot join in the lives of their societies. The quest for sustainable development requires new ways of working together, green skills, new types of jobs and a shift in mentalities. The private sector can be a true partner in driving alliances for innovation.”

The discussion focused on both obstacles and enablers: how to harness mobile technology for the empowerment of girls, how to change the attitudes of boys and men, and how to encourage and support women’s entrepreneurship.

Kenn Gunn, founder and Director of the Institute called upon more organizations to step up and partner with UNESCO and related the Institute’s initiative to launch a new scholarship scheme for women executives in response to the gender imbalance in leadership roles.

Founded in 1992, the CEO Institute, with a membership of over 1,000, is Australia’s leading networking group for chief executives, offering a range of professional development opportunities.