The world must become a peaceful place in which women live without fear, without worries and with dignity. Let’s say together: “We can do it!” The Prime Minister of Bangladesh and world champion of women’s rights and girls’ education Sheikh Hasina made this exciting appeal this evening during the official opening of the Global Women Leaders Forum. For the first time Bulgaria is hosting such a prestigious and high-level forum. Remarkable women leaders from the business, politics, art and science arrived from 4 continents and over 80 countries to participate in it.

The forum, entitled “Inspire the next generation of leaders” is organized by the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria created on the initiative of the Manager magazine in 2012 and by UNESCO under the patronage of the Director-General of the organization and an official nominee of Bulgaria for UN General Secretary Ms. Irina Bokova.

“We live in different times, but challenges remain and one of them is the inequality between women and men. It destroys the structure of our whole society and undermines peace, it is the major obstacle to the development in many countries today,” the Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova said in her opening speech. “The 21st century must become the century of the equality of women,” she stressed.

The world renewed its commitment to address this inequality, and the forum in Sofia will confirm one of the most important messages of this global commitment – that equality begins from education, Bokova said. Yet data on this starting line is still alarming – only 60% of countries have achieved equality between boys and girls in primary education and only 38% – in secondary. 62 million girls around the world are still deprived of the right to basic education and leave school early because they are forced to work or get married, the Director General of UNESCO alerted.

We must have the political will to change, Bokova urged and gave as an example the achievements of Bangladesh in this direction. “The figures speak for themselves. Over the last decade extreme poverty in Bangladesh fell by half. Maternal mortality fell by 40%. Today it is one of the few countries where more girls than boys attend school,” she added, citing the statement of the Prime Minister of the country and a guest at the forum in Sofia Sheikh Hasina, “If you educate a boy, you educate him only. If you educate a girl – you educate all her family and the entire community. ” 

National policies in support of women’s education were among the first steps that Hasina took when she became Prime Minister, she said in a speech at the opening of the forum. “My father, who introduced democratic changes in Africa in the 70s, realized that we can’t go ahead without women, because they are half the population. His understanding inspires me today”, Sheikh Hasina pointed out and gave examples of different policies that promote growth and career development of women in Bangladesh – the education in the country is completely free for girls up to grade 12, there are mandatory quotas for the career development of women in different spheres, as well as their leadership development in public administration, in local and parliamentary bodies. “We must continue working together to empower women to be the engines of social change. The world must become a peaceful place in which women live without fear and with dignity,” she appealed.

Gender equality is essential for creating sustainable and peaceful societies, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev stated in the welcome speech to the participants in the forum. According to him, the numerous challenges facing the world today make the international environment more uncertain for the most vulnerable – women and children. “Despite the efforts of the international community, we continue to witness a daily violation of human rights. This calls on us to rethink the quality of policies, to unite and give a comprehensive response to contemporary – both old and new – challenges,” Rosen Plevneliev said. He stressed on Bulgaria’s achievements in ensuring equal rights and equal participation of women and men in all spheres of life through the implementation of the national strategy to promote gender equality and the newly adopted law on equality, which, in his words gave an example to many other countries because “we define equality as a basic principle in everything and everywhere”.

Today, women are undoubtedly the fastest growing force in the world and no company can ignore it. I hope this forum will become a traditional platform for the exchange of ideas to promote the full deployment of this force, Boryana Manolova, the Chairman of the Board of Women in Business wished.

 Women on leadership positions from business, politics, social, cultural fields, research centers will participate in the working panels of the forum, which continues tomorrow. Among the main speakers are the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Meglena Kuneva, Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova, Minister of Agriculture and Food Desislava Taneva, the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, Sagnier Gyulser Crust, director of the Department for Gender Equality of UNESCO, the Director of International Research and Science Institute on the Progress of Women at the UN Carmen Moreno and others.

Source: Manager News



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