Building peace in the minds of men and women

Letter from China’s First Lady and UNESCO Special Envoy to Director-General expresses “shock” over Nigerian Schoolgirls’ abduction

In a letter to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, the First lady of China and UNESCO Special Envoy for Advancing Girls’ and Women’s Education Peng Liyuan, called on the international community to “make every effort” to rescue more than 270 school girls abducted from their school in Nigeria on 14 April.

The First Lady wrote: “I am extremely worried about their situation and strongly condemn this severe violence.

“Students are our future, and schools are places where our children learn, grow and pursue their dreams. Girls’ safety and their right to education are critical and should be protected.

“As a mother, I understand the anxiety and worries of their families. As UNESCO Special Envoy for Advancing Girls’ and Women’s Education, I call on the international community to make every effort to rescue them and bring them back home and to school safe and sound.”

In her response to Peng Liyuan, Mrs Bokova thanked the First Lady for her “powerful Statement of condemnation”.   “As First Lady of the world’s largest nation – a champion country that has placed educational progress at the centre of its development – (it) carries particularly strong resonance,” she said, adding that  “UNESCO is determined to support the Nigerian Government in its efforts to bring these girls back to safety as well as  to take all measures within our mandate to protect schools and make them secure for all students and teachers.”

In March this year,  Ms  Bokova nominated Peng Liyuan as a UNESCO Special Envoy in recognition “of her commitment to empowering girls and women through quality education, her outstanding contribution to fighting inequalities in education, her devoted service to human development and creativity, and her dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization.”