UNESCO’s Constitution states that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” This year, to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), UNESCO paid tribute to the women around the world who are courageously, and often anonymously, constructing the defences of peace. See the Video of the International Conference and read the final Declaration
|Discover three of these women invited to speak at UNESCO. Click to see the video interviews:
- Sylvie Kinigi, (in French only). Ms Sylvie Kinigi is former Prime Minister of the first democratically elected, ethnically mixed government of Burundi. She survived the violent 1993 coup, during which the President, Melchior Ndadaye, was assassinated, only to find herself in charge of a conflict-beleaguered nation. Ms Kinigi bravely went on to become a leader and outspoken proponent of peace and reconciliation. She is currently working as Senior Political Advisor and Coordinator of Programs to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to the Great Lakes Region in Africa.
- Luz Mendez, (in Spanish only). Ms Luz Mendez is President of the Advisory Council to the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG). Before this post, from 1991 to 1996, Ms Méndez participated in the Guatemalan peace negotiations which brought an end to 35 years of violent conflict. She was one of the few women at the negotiating table, and succeeded in seeing the inclusion of women’s rights into the historic Peace Accords. In 1996, Ms Mendez set out to rehabilitate the Union of Guatemalan Women, one of the country’s oldest women’s rights groups, which had been forced to operate in exile during the war. As part of her work with the Global Fund for Women, and UNIFEM, she has contributed to peace processes in Burundi, Iraq, Israel, Palestinian Territories and Colombia among others.
- Swanee Hunt, (in English only). Ambassador Swanee Hunt is the founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is also the founder of the Initiative for Inclusive Security which advocates for the full participation of all stakeholders, especially women, in formal and informal peace processes. During her service as U.S. Ambassador to Austria, in the 1990s, Ambassador Hunt hosted negotiations and several international symposia aimed at securing peace in the Balkans. Today, through her work with the Initiative for Inclusive Security, Ambassador Hunt works to connect women peacemakers from around the world through her Women Waging Peace Network, and has trained women leaders and peace builders in almost 40 countries, most recently in Sudan.
Detailed programme of International Women's Day 2007 celebrations at Headquarters, Paris
UNESCO's IWD celebrations away from Headquarters -click here
Message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO,
on the occasion of International Women's Day, 8 March 2007,
International Conference, March 8 2007, 3:00pm – Room II
See the Video
This international conference will bring together distinguished women who contribute, through their work, to the promotion of peace around the world. In order to face the most complex crises the world has ever known, and because conflicts have direct consequences on women, it is fundamental that women participate fully and equally in the prevention of conflicts, in peace building processes and in the consolidation of peace.
Panellists will include Swanee Hunt (video interview in ENGLISH only), former US Ambassador to Austria and founder of the Initiative for Inclusive Security; Senator Mobina Jaffer of British Columbia/Canada, former Special Envoy for Canada to the Peace Process in Sudan; Sylvie Kinigi (video interview in FRENCH only), Senior Political Advisor on Democracy and Good Governance and Coordinator of Programme Activities, Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to the Great Lakes Region and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Burundi; Luz Mendez (video interview in SPANISH only), President of the Advisory Council to the National Union of Guatemalan Women; and Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, member of the Swiss Parliament and the Council of Europe and founder of the organization 1000 Peace Women Across the Globe. Read more
For more information on the United Nation's celebrations for International Women's Day, March 8 2007,
The day will also be marked by the launch of two international networks.
- LAUNCH OF THE “GROUP OF WOMEN AMBASSADORS TO UNESCO FOR GENDER EQUALITY”
March 8 2007
This initiative by the Women Ambassadors to UNESCO aims to share information on, and experiences in, the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment/rights in all Member States and in all areas of the Organization’s work as well as in the Secretariat. It also seeks to assist UNESCO in enhancing its actions in its fields of competence.
- LAUNCH OF THE “UNESCO INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF WOMEN PHILOSOPHERS”
March 8 2007
This initiative of UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector intends to enhance the participation of women in international debate and exchange on key issues identified in the UNESCO Strategy for Philosophy. This will be achieved through the acknowledgement and strengthening of the distinctive contribution of women philosophers to international cooperation and understanding.
© Charo Oquet, Installation 2006
|Women Trafficking - (UNESCO - BSP/GE)
Documentary Screening, March 13 2007, 6:30pm - Room XI. Followed by a discussion with the film Jelena Gakovic