China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan, also United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) special envoy for the advancement of girls’ and women’s education, sent a congratulatory message to the award of UNESCO via a video on October 12.
In her message, Peng expressed congratulations to prize-winners from Sri Lanka and Kenya. In 2015, China established the Girls’ and Women’s Education Award with UNESCO, and Peng mentioned that there are millions of people who devote their life for the education of girls and women in China.
Zhang Guimei is one of them. She is a female teacher who has taught in the poor mountainous areas of Southwest China’s Yunnan Province for over 40 years. She established the first full-tuition-free girl high school in China, which helps many young girls from poverty-stricken families receive education.
This year, 1.5 billion students have been forced to suspend classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Peng, and this impact on girls is particularly pronounced. We need to find ways to help those girls get back to school so that they won’t be left behind due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sixty-three percent of illiterate adults around the world are women, said Peng, and the education of girls and women is of great benefit to the present and the future. China will continue to work with UNESCO to ensure the success of the Girls’ and Women’s Education Awards from 2021 to 2025, and make greater contributions to promoting girls’ and women’s education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Peng added.
Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO, thanked the Chinese government for supporting the establishment of Girls’ and Women’s Education Awards.
The UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education honors outstanding and innovative contributions made by individuals, institutions and organizations to advance girls’ and women’s education.