Address by H.E. Mrs Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Exhibition “Women of Kyrgyzstan for Peace and Tolerance” on the occasion of the visit to UNESCO of Her Excellency Ms Roza Otunbayeva, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 3 March 2011
Madame President of the Kyrgyz Republic,
Madame Director-General of UNESCO,
“I find myself in front of the small painting in a simple frame”. With these words starts the famous novel Jamilya by the most popular Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov, an exceptional figure in modern world literature and a great friend of UNESCO. He wrote about the magnificence of his land –Kyrgyzstan, the beauty of Kyrgyz women and the eternal truths of life – peace and love. The French poet Louis Aragon described Jamilya as “world’s most beautiful love story”.
Here we are today in front of the exhibition dedicated to the women of Kyrgyzstan under the motto of Peace and Tolerance. The exhibition is taking place in the framework of International Women’s Day. It is the 100th time since the first 8 March event was held in 1911. We all know that women are powerful agents of change and peace-building and, Madam President, we also know that your personal example in the matter is most inspiring. On many occasions you have contributed to positively transforming the image of the country, at the time of the Soviet Union, when you were the first woman appointed Secretary-General of its National Commission, Ambassador and Representative to the Executive Board of UNESCO, and more recently when you became the first ever elected woman President of Kyrgyzstan.
The challenge facing you now is terribly difficult, but I believe that you will lead the Kyrgyzstan towards prosperity with much wisdom and justice. As I stated at the closing meeting of the 185th Board session in October last year, I sincerely hope that your country will soon take the path of national harmony and further social development. We all must join Kyrgyzstan in its ongoing efforts for transition. We also have to mark our strong solidarity with its women in their conflict mitigation and capacity-building efforts.
Your Excellency, today you met the first woman Director-General of UNESCO, and I am sure that your respective backgrounds will enhance the relationship between UNESCO and Kyrgyzstan, for the more democratic and sustained future in your country and the whole Central Asian region, where women’s status in society is still weakened, as it is in many parts of the world.
This year, International Women’s Day expresses the world’s commitment to girls’ and women’s equal access to education, training, science and technology. Women’s great dedication to peace, progress and development as well as their highly beneficial moral values and virtues of non-violence and dialogue have to be fully recognized, valorised and channelled into the wider political and economic participation, with full access to education, information, communication and science technologies.
Madam President, your visit today to UNESCO is taking place in parallel with the annual L’Orйal-UNESCO Awards and Fellowships for Women in Science. This is highly symbolic. It would only be fair if a representative from your country was honoured at a future event celebrating women in science.
Ladies and gentlemen, Kyrgyzstan has been a Member of UNESCO since 1992, but its cultural heritage is as ancient, rich and expressive as the Kyrgyz nation’s legendary oral epic trilogy of Manas, Semetey, Seytek, which has survived over the centuries through oral transmission by the Akyn story-tellers. I am confident that the main asset of every nation through generations is always its human intellectual potential, of which women are the most sincere, uncorrupted, moral and responsible part.
Your Excellency, Dear Friends, May the world echo the sound of Kyrgyz women’s beating heart!
Thank you for your attention.