3 March 2005

Education, Gender Equality Together Must Be Given Priority, Secretary-General Says in Video Message to Conference on Gender Parity

NEW YORK, 2 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the video message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the Conference on Gender Parity in Education, Washington, D.C., 2 March:

Dear friends,

You have come together to discuss bold proposals for action on a vital subject: how to reach the Millennium Development Goals of universal primary education and gender equality.

Education is the right of every one of the world’s daughters, as well as its sons. It is also crucial to our progress in reaching many other development goals.

If we are to succeed in our efforts to build a healthier, peaceful and equitable world, classrooms must be full of girls, as well as boys.

By educating girls, we will help raise economic productivity and reduce both maternal and infant mortality.

By educating girls, we will improve nutrition, promote health, and fight HIV/AIDS.

By educating girls, we will trigger a transformation of society as a whole -- social, economic and political.

That is why education and gender equality together must be given priority.

The world’s leaders have set a target for girls to catch up with boys in primary and secondary education -- not by 2015, but by this year.

Yet of the more than 100 million children who are not in school, most are still girls.

There can be no more excuses.  No more broken promises. We have to work much harder to meet our targets.

As the Millennium Project reports show, reaching these goals is not just about money.

It is just as much -- or more -- about sustained political leadership.

So I thank the Center for Global Development and the International Center for Research on Women for their wonderful work and their unstinting commitment.

Thank you for contributing to our work to build a fairer, safer, healthier world.

* *** *