The African candidate for the post of the Director General, United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, Amb. Moushira Mahmoud Khattab, has visited Nigeria to solicit for support during the election.
She said that she was in Nigeria to sample the opinion of government officials and civil society organisations on their views, aspirations and expectations of an African running UNESCO.
“ My vision for UNESCO is guided by my work on underground. I work for many years underground with the most marginalised segment of the society. I work with poor girls and rebuild schools for poor girls. We work on the rights of the youths and the right to be heard and how to empower them to be effective citizens in a democratic society. I work on many issues that fall within the mandate of UNESCO. My vision is centered around education. Education is the first mandate of UNESCO. I see education as not only a human right but an enabler to achieving other human rights,” she said.
The Egyptian, who has held various positions in her country, said that she would make education of the girl child her priority if elected.
Amb. khattab noted that for African countries, education is very important as it promotes human rights and could be used to curb terrorism globally.
She pointed that her aim would be to bring UNESCO closer to the people as it was originally created for the people and it must be made to cater for the people.
The special envoy said that there was the need to promote education as a means of ending terrorism.
She said that more efforts must be spared to provide access to quality education as education is a good investment.
“Usually, those who are deprived of the right to education suffer other deprivations. They suffer poverty, exclusion and marginalization. And this is not only in Nigeria. It’s in many countries. There are a set of measures to be taken at the national and international level. At the national level, the state must have an action plan with a time bound budget, establish data and identify every child who is deprived, and the area of discrimination that the child suffers from. When you have a budget, you must start with education,” she advised.
She also said that the international community and international organisations are worried about the rising number of Internally Displaced Persons globally.
Amb. Khattab, said that gender equality is a priority for UNESCO and Africa. It will be achieved when parents teach children that both boys and girls are both human beings with equal rights to education, to healthcare and protection from violence.
“ We must start by raising awareness on the society, the parents, religious leaders that the girl is as useful as the boy, provided you. And I am very proud of the high literacy rate amongst Nigerian women,” she said.
She also noted that UNECSO under her leadership would put an end to female genital mutilation through international legislations and proper education.
Amb. Khattab while answering questions on terrorism destroying tourism sites globally, said that UNESCO faces serious challenges right now as terrorism is affecting heritage sites.
Amb. Moushira Mahmoud Khattab said that she is getting positive responses from Nigeria and other countries she has visited and as the sole candidate of Africa, she is optimistic.