China will continue working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and make greater contribution to promoting girls' and women's education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, said on Monday.
Peng, also UNESCO special envoy for the advancement of girls' and women's education, made the remarks in a congratulatory message for the fifth UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education via video.
In the message, Peng expressed warm congratulations to the laureates of this year's prize from Sri Lanka and Kenya. She said that in 2015, China and UNESCO jointly established the prize. Laureates have been taking actions to help girls and women acquire knowledge and skills, ignite the life dreams of girls and women, and contribute to the promotion of gender equality in education and social development, Peng noted.
In China, there are also countless people dedicated to girls' and women's education, Peng said, telling a story of Zhang Guimei, a female teacher who moved to poor mountainous areas in southwest China's Yunnan Province and lived there for over 40 years for this cause.
With Zhang's efforts, Peng said, the first senior high school that offers free education for girls opened in China, which, since its operation in 2008, has helped more than 1,600 girls pursue higher education. The girls loved Ms. Zhang and called her "mom." She is like a ray of hope that illuminates the girls' lives.
Peng said the COVID-19 pandemic has forced 1.5 billion students around the world to suspend classes this year, with girls particularly affected. We should spare no efforts to help girls return to school so that they are not left behind, Peng added.
Noting that 63 percent of the illiterate adults worldwide are women, Peng said there will be no progress in human society if women do not receive a good education.
She called on more countries and people from all walks of life to actively support and participate in the great cause of girls' and women's education at present, which is of great benefit to future generations.
China will continue working with UNESCO to make a success of the UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education during 2021-2025, promote global exchanges and cooperation in education, and make greater contribution to promoting girls' and women's education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.
Peng also called on the international community to join hands to help girls and women gain equal access to quality education and provide women with a brighter future.