UNESCO celebrates International Women's DayTo celebrate International Women's Day, on March 8, UNESCO is organizing a series of events including a conference-debate on the theme Africa's cultural responses to AIDS: women and their struggle. AIDS and women are also the focus of the message* issued by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, for International Women's Day 2004.
On March 8 (2.30 p.m., Room II), the conference-debate Africa's cultural responses to AIDS: women and their struggles is organized with the participation and for the benefit of associations for African women with AIDS. Initiated by Routes du Sud (Roads from the South), an association that promotes a cultural approach to the disease, it will be opened by Mr Matsuura and attended by Cheick Oumar Sissoko, Culture Minister of Mali, and specialists in the treatment and prevention of AIDS. It will be chaired by Madeleine Mokamabano, a journalist, and Alexandra Draxler, UNESCO’s focal point for HIV/AIDS.
The conference will be preceded by a sale of handicrafts and clothes for the benefit of the associations, and followed by a show (6.30 p.m., Room I), compered by journalist Elisabeth Tchoungui, and featuring the Voix de l'Espoir (Princesse Erika, Amina, Sally Nyollo, Nourith, Chinaa and Lââm), a dance choreographed by Kettly Noël, Iréne Tassembedo and Max-Laure, and a fashion parade of creations by Awa Meité.
The same day (6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.), a play entitled Houria, la femme que j’étais (Houria, the woman I used to be), by Gaspare Dori, will be performed by Pamela Edouard in the Cinema at Organization Headquarters, before moving on to other Paris venues. The play is a monologue about the solitude and suffering of a woman, in a cell awaiting death by stoning. A debate will follow the performance.
Still on March 8, at a press conference to be held at UNESCO Headquarters (2.30 p.m., Room 11) the L’OREAL-UNESCO FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE partners will announce the five laureates (from South Africa, Brazil, China, the United States and France) of the 2004 L’OREAL-UNESCO FOR WOMEN IN SCIENCE AWARDS. The 15 women who will receive Fellowship grants of $20,000 each under the For Women in Science programme will also be announced. These fellowships will be awarded at 5.30 p.m. after a presentation of the research projects to be conducted by the beneficiaries. The award ceremony for the five laureates, who will each receive $100,000, will be held on March 11 (Room 1).
On March 10 (6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., Room XII), the documentary film Shadows - Ombres Afghanes, by Mary Ayubi and Polly Hyman, two Afghan camerawomen, will be screened at UNESCO (Room XII). This film about women's lives in Afghanistan was produced by AINA, a non-governmental organization developing independent media and cultural expression in Afghanistan. A debate attended by Mary Ayubi and the press photographer Reza Deghati, President and founder of AINA will follow the screening.
On March 15 (6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., Room XII), the film Ma femme est yéré (My wife is Yéré) will be shown. Produced by three young journalists (Stéphanie Vauguin, Romain Loubry and Julie Roullier) it recounts the experiences of West African women from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo, and their contribution to the economy, politics, women's health and women's rights. A debate will follow.
From March 18 to April 8 (Salle des Actes), an exhibition, Women nomads of Iran, will display work by Iranian photographer Morteza Poursamady. The opening of the exhibition, on March 18 (6 p.m.) will be preceded by a symposium (Room II, 3 p.m.) about women nomads of Iran (Bakhtiaris, Qashqais, Baluchis, Azeris), their role in society and in the economy.
UNESCO is also organizing, for the third time, Women Make the News, an initiative to persuade media organizations - in the written press, radio, television and electronic media - to appoint a woman as chief editor on International Women’s Day. Organized via the internet (www.unesco.org/march8/), it is designed to raise the profile of women journalists, their editorial work, and their voices in the media, and to draw attention to the fact that although women are increasingly present in the media, they are rarely promoted to top editorial positions. Launching Women Make the News in 2000, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura stressed the fact that parity must remain central to the concerns of all societies and the international community until such time as it is achieved at every level in the world of work.
Finally, the French version of the latest edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report entitled Gender and Education for All: the Leap to Equality is being published to coincide with International Women’s Day. This report will be the subject of a presentation and debate at UNESCO (Monday, March 15) attended by philosopher Geneviève Fraisse and Serge Tomasi, deputy director for social development and educational cooperation at the French Foreign Ministry.
More than 56% of the 104 million children out-of-school are girls, and almost two thirds of the 860 million illiterates in the world are women. Lowest school attendance rates are in South and West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab states. The Report stresses the importance of employing women teachers - especially in rural or isolated areas where girls’ school attendance is weak – and of creating schools that are more propitious to learning with better equipment and teachers aware of gender issues and the need to fight against sexual violence in the school environment.
* The Director-General’s message will be available at www.unesco.org/dg
Journalists wishing to cover any or all of these events should contact UNESCO Press Service, tel +33 (0)1 45 68 17 48.