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Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education

UNESCO Launches Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education

Secretary Clinton (UNESCO Image)

Secretary Clinton delivers a special address at the launch of the Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education

Secretary Clinton with Ambassador Killion, Director-General Bokova, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (UNESCO Image)

Secretary Clinton with Ambassador Killion, Director-General Bokova, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

On May 26th, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a special address at the launch of UNESCO's Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education.

As part of the Secretary's tour of Paris and London, the trip highlights the Secretary's dedication to the issue of girls' and women's education, in addition to the U.S.'s support of UNESCO's mission.  "...It is important to be reminded that we all come from somewhere, and we are all on the same journey," Secretary Clinton remarked, "and the sacrifices made by so many to enable us to be up here on this stage, and those of you -- prime ministers, ministers, ambassadors, excellencies -- to be working here at UNESCO, is part of the reason we believe in what we are doing. We believe that for every woman and girl and man... and boy in the world, we can build a better future."

Secretary Clinton spoke highly of the Global Partnership, underscoring the success of the initiative in drawing together diverse sources of funding and expertise. "I am confident that, by working with other UN agencies, institutions, and private sector partners, UNESCO can help make a much needed difference for women and girls and their educational opportunities around the world." She also spoke of the U.S.'s commitment to eliminating the global gender gap for by supporting a new UNESCO study on causes of gender disparities and education. "This... study will not just be an important step forward to get information, but the test will be how we use this information, whether we can pioneer innovative partnerships to create new opportunities for women and girls to learn and prosper."

The Secretary was joined by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke of his childhood and the hardships his mother faced as a woman living in a conflict zone.  Mr. Ban affirmed his support for the Global Partnership initiative, stressing that, "education sends a message of confidence and hope. It tells that child ‘you have a future; what you think matters'... But although education is a right, it is not a reality for all too many girls." 

Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister of Mali Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé gave remarks on the positive impact of girls' and women's education on families, local communities and society at-large. The launch was also accompanied by a High-Level Panel discussion moderated by CBS News Correspondent Sheila MacVicar, which included other participants ranging such as His Highness the Aga Khan, and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network Foundation, to U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer to representatives of the program's corporate partners, among them Nokia and Microsoft.

The visit provided an opportunity for the Secretary to commend UNESCO for the progress that it has already made towards achieving its goals, as well as to urge the organization to continue its efforts of international development. "I come today... to express appreciation for the work you have done," Secretary Clinton stated, "but also to urge that you take a hard look at how UNESCO can be even better: What can be done more efficiently? What doesn't need to be done anymore? How do we find new avenues for cooperation among international institutions, with countries, with NGOs, with the private sector?"

She concluded by affirming that UNESCO's focus on education for women and girls, "will pay great benefits for all of the people who will be waiting to see whether those of us who are working on their behalf can actually make a difference to help them have that better life they so richly deserve." Much as this new Global Partnership testifies to UNESCO's commitment to providing equal access to education for all, Secretary Clinton's visit to Paris, the first of any standing Secretary of State, is living proof of the solidarity of the continuing relations between the U.S. and UNESCO.