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On June 30th , 2017, UNESCO launched a series of thematic conferences related to its program “UNESCO's Soft Power Today” to promote the empowerment and leadership of women.

This series of conferences was launched by a high-level conference on the theme of “promoting the empowerment and leadership of women”, highlighting gender equality as one of UNESCO's two global priorities.

The Foundation granted a donation of 150,000 euros to support this important initiative.

In her opening speech, Mrs Irina Bukova, Director-General of UNESCO, stressed the importance of strengthening the tools for the empowerment of women, starting with their education: “Leadership is not a gift from nature - you have to feed him. It has to start on the school benches,”she said.

Mr. Mohamed Hmayen Bouamatou, Founder and President of the Fondation pour l’égalité des chances en Afrique, praised the action of UNESCO which, since the arrival of Mrs. Irina Bukova, became a key actor in the promotion of values ​​the Foundation supports such as gender equality, seen as a fundamental human right, a basis for social justice, and an economic necessity.


"For almost thirty years, I have been active in my country, then in my sub-region, to facilitate access to education for children, and to higher education for women. I have built many primary, secondary and high schools in my country, Mauritania. […] I contribute to the functioning of a center in Morocco which hosts high school girls wishing to be able to pursue higher studies. I also built in 2004 the extension of Cheikh Zayed hospital's Maternity in Nouakchott to fight against maternal mortality. It was natural for the Foundation to support UNESCO in the organization of this conference." Mohamed Bouamatou.

The conference brought together more than fifty renowned personalities and high-level experts from around the world. Among the guests of honor were, in particular, HE Mrs. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, HE Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates, HE Mrs. Rula Ghani, First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, HE Mrs. Tarja Halonen, former President of the Republic of Finland, HE Mrs. Teresa Fernández de la Vega, former Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and President of the Fundación Mujeres por África, HRH Princess Petra Laurentien of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau and UNESCO Special Envoy for Literacy for Development, HRH Princess Dana Firas of Jordan, President of the Petra National Trust, HE Mrs. Aminata Touré, Special Envoy of the Head of State of Senegal, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, etc.

Many women and girls engaged in the field such as Aminetou Mint Moctar, Mauritanian feminist and anti-slavery activis, Cécile Kyenge, MEP and first Italian minister of African descent, Tarcila Rivera Zea, Founder of the Center for Indigenous Cultures of Peru, Prof. Feride Acar, Professor at the Technical University of the Middle East, President of GREVIO, and the young Nigerian filmmaker Zuriel Oduwole, defending girls's right to education, were able to discuss different themes affecting the status of women around the world. Among the issues discussed were the education of girls, the place of women in politics and in the business world, and the role of women in the development of peace and security.

The conference allowed to assessed the situation of women nowadays and to recall that women, while they represent a little more than 50% of the world population, remain underrepresented in positions of power as well as in the sharing of the world's wealth. Only less than 4% of the world's 500 largest companies are managed by women. Women are also among the first victims of armed conflicts and remain excluded from the participation in the peace process.


The conference also celebrated the accomplishments of UNESCO and of many women who are making change in their communities. It was an opportunity to recall that investing in the empowerment and leadership of women and the education of young girls is the best way to invest in the future.

"If women and men participated equally in the labor market, the GDP would increase by 5% in the United States, by 7% in Japan and by 27% in India". Mrs. Irina Bukova.


The event was marked by the tribute to Simone Veil, a universal figure of the struggle for women rights, who died the same day. The fight of Simone Veil, survivor of the Death Camps, committed against racism and anti-Semitism, and fervent craftswoman of European construction, clearly demonstrates that the establishment of a lasting peace will necessitate the empowerment and leadership development of girls and women.

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