Address by Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO,
on the occasion of the nomination of Ms Alexandra Ochirova as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador UNESCO,
4 June 2012
Excellency Ms. Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Ms. Ochirova,
I am very pleased to welcome you all to UNESCO today.
Summer is not quite here yet -- but we all feel its promise in the air! It is a special pleasure to welcome you on the occasion of the designation of Ms. Alexandra Ochirova as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
These designation ceremonies are important. They are a moment for all of us to renew our commitment to the values we share and the objectives we pursue. They are a moment to widen the UNESCO family ever more -- to bring in new views and experiences to bolster our common work. I see this as the great strength of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors.
I am very pleased to see here today Mr. Zurab Tsereteli, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Hedva Ser and Mr. Amri Aminov, UNESCO Artists for Peace – thank you for joining us.
As of today, the UNESCO family will include a new member. She is an activist for human rights, especially the rights of women, she is a political leader who has worn many different hats, and she is also an artist. In all of this, she has been guided by clear principles. “Education is one of the most important vectors for the development of the human being.” “Safeguarding cultural heritage is a colossal importance for societies today.” These are the words of Ms. Alexandra Ochirova. They reflect ideals that have inspired her social and political engagement. They embody a philosophy in tune with the spirit of UNESCO’s mandate. Ms. Ochirova, I know philosophy is especially important to you.
You graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of Moscow State University and completed postgraduate studies at the Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences.
You worked at the Institute of Philosophy, before being elected to the State Duma, where you served as Deputy President of the International Affairs Committee. At that point, political duties took a leading place in your life – but the importance of philosophy has never disappeared, remaining as a foundation for your work. Your political engagement has included being a Member of the Board of the Presidential Council for the Implementation of Priority National Projects and Demographic Policy. You also served as a Member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Chairperson of the Commission on Social Development and Chairperson of the Commission on Social and Demographic Policy.
Philosophy has been a constant throughout all of this. And so has your commitment to women’s empowerment. Already in 1990, you founded the International Women’s Centre, Women’s Future. You remain today the President of the Centre, which has become one of Russia’s foremost non-governmental organizations.
The Centre works across the Russian Federation to provide medical, social, educational and other forms of assistance to vulnerable social groups – especially to women and children in difficulty. We are both convinced tat girls and women are the face of change across the world. Women’s empowerment is a breakthrough strategy for human rights and for sustainable development. We know also girls and women must overcome the greatest obstacles to change – from discrimination and violence to deprivation and poverty. The International Women’s Centre, Women’s Future, is committed to creating the conditions for the empowerment of girls and women –- notably in the North Caucasus. Throughout her political life, Ms. Ochirova has fought for gender equality at the highest political, economic and business levels. Gender equality is a Global Priority of this Organization.
Just ten days ago, we celebrated the first anniversary of the UNESCO Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education. For this, we were joined by Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, UNESCO Special Envoy for Literacy for Development, Mr. Etienne Faitchou, Minister of Primary and Civic Education of Chad, and Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women.
I launched this Global Partnership to make a concrete difference in the lives of girls and women across the world. I look forward to taking forward this commitment with Ms. Alexandra Ochirova – to promote social justice and to lay the foundations for more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. Dear Ms. Ochirova,
You have received many honours. In 1995, the International Women’s Centre, Women’s Future, was put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2009, you received the Honorary Gratitude of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation for your public work.
Today, I am honoured to designate you as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. With this, you join a large and vibrant family -- including from the Russian Federation Mr. Zurab Tsereteli, Mr. Vitaly Ignatenko, and Mr. Ara Abramian, who are all committed to taking forward UNESCO’s ideals and objectives.
In this spirit, allow me to read the diploma: Alexandra, I wish you great success in your new mission, and I thank you for having joined forces with UNESCO to take our message across the world.