UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education generates great interest

The five jury members for the first édition of the UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education say they are impressed with the quantity and range of nominations. The jury is meeting in Paris on 3-4 May 2016 and will reviewed 53 nominations received from around the world.

Following the call for nominations launched on occasion of the International Day of Women on 8 March 2016, UNESCO received nominations reflecting the importance of the thematic across all regions and showcasing the innovative contributions made in favour of girls’ and women’s education.

Contributions range from projects supporting girls’ transition from primary education to lower-secondary and literacy skills to gender-responsive learning environments, and skills and knowledge development to boost employment opportunities.

Facing similar problems

The International Jury is composed of five recognized experts in the area of girls’ and women’s education, representing all regions: Ms Aïcha Bah Diallo (Guinea), Ms Hayat Sindi (Saudi Arabia), Ms Zheping Xie (China), Mr Maxime Forest (France) and Ms Gloria Bonder (Argentina).

“This prize shows that women on all continents are facing similar problems. We have received so many submissions of such a high standard and I think in the future, as the prize grows, these will be of an outstanding quality,” said jury member Ms Sindi.

For Ms Bah Diallo, this prize comes at the right time. “Women’s empowerment is the “dorsal fin” of the whole Sustainable Development Agenda. We know, for example, that if we educate women about health we educate a whole family,” she said.

The Prize will contribute to the attainment of the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda, launched last September, particularly SDG goals 4 on education and 5 on gender equality.

Outstanding contribution

Established by UNESCO’s Executive board in 2015, the Prize is awarded each year to individuals, institutions and organizations honouring their outstanding contributions to the advancement of girls’ and women’s education. It is supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

Ms Xie says that China had experiences to share and are promoting them through this prize. “My grandmother’s generation had a high illiteracy rate and my mother was the first girl in her village to go to school. I think China’s story recognizes the importance of education and how it can benefit other parts of the world. This prize is a very promising start,” the jury member said.

The official announcement on the selection will be made shortly after the Jury Meeting. The two selected laureates will receive a certificate and a monetary award of USD 50,000 each at an official award ceremony to take place in Beijing, China in June 2016.