On 5 March, in the framework of the 57th Commission on the Status of Women, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova participated in a Joint Executive Directors Forum on “Ending Violence against Women and Girls.”
This Forum was opened by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and facilitated by Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, and included the participation of a range of senior leaders of UN agencies -- namely Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator, Ms. Anne-Birgette Albrectsen, Deputy Executive Director, UNFPA, Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, Ms Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR.
"Women's rights are basic rights -- we need to change attitudes and behaviours, we need to change laws and we need to punish those who violate them," declared the Secretary-General.
In her intervention, Irina Bokova reminded all of the vital importance of education for preventing and tackling gender based violence, especially in schools. She reiterated also the need to develop comprehensive sexuality education to make the most of schooling for the health of the whole of society.
“Our work must start on the benches of schools, in strong curricula, in appropriate teacher and principal training, in setting the right environments in and around schools,” said the Director-General. "These are vital for preventing violence and for protecting the rights and freedoms of every girl and women."
The Director-General also participated in the CSW side event on “From resolution to elimination: Plans to intensify efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation,” co-organized by Italy, the OIF, Italy and UNICEF. The First Lady of Burkina Faso, Ms. Chantal Compaoré was keynote speaker at the event, where she underlined her country's firm commitment to eliminate this violation of basic human rights and her deep personal engagement with this cause.
During the discussion, Irina Bokova highlighted the importance of education as a transformative force to prevent female genital mutilation and cutting, underlining the need for all to respect the human rights and human dignity of every girl and women and reminding all of the relevance in this respect of the 2001 UNESCO Universal declaration on Cultural Diversity.
On 5 March, the Director-General also gave the keynote speech to the briefing on the Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, organised by the Permanent Delegates of the Republic of Senegal and Canada.
In her intervention, Irina Bokova explored the main lessons learned since 2000 in taking forward the MDG and Education for All, and highlighted the need for quality, equity and values to lie at the heart of the post-2015 global education agenda.
“To look forward, we must, first, look back, and examine experience,” said the Director-General. “We need to capture the lessons since 2000 and build on them. The world is changing, and so is education -- the global agenda must reflect these changes.
The briefing was organised in advance of the Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the post 2015 Development Agenda that will be held in Dakar, Senegal on 18-19 March 2013.
"It is a powerful symbol that we will hold this Global Meeting in Dakar," said the Director-General, "the place where Education for All was born, and where we take a new step forward for education and a new global sustainability agenda."