In an official international ceremony, the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) launched its training programme for women and youth in leadership for peace and security, under the theme: “Women and Youth: Agents of Peace.” The ceremony saw the participation of high officials and eminent international personalities in peacebuilding.
The celebration took place on March 25, 2021, face-to-face at ICESCO headquarters in Rabat and through a videoconference. The programme is part of ICESCO’s celebration of “Year of Women 2021,” under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. The measure aims to train and mobilize young people as actors of change for peace, citizenship, and resilience, to build the societies we want and make them true ambassadors of peace in their societies, by equipping them with the tools of knowledge and leadership through the exchange with inspiring leaders and expert trainers for a peaceful world.
The celebration kicked off with a recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an, which was followed by the address of the guest of honor of the ceremony, Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, which Mr. Patrick Mouguiama Daouda, Minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, delivered on his behalf, wherein he commended ICESCO’s work in contributing to the improvement of women’s lives, stressing the need to provide them with all the necessary support.
He also pointed out the essential role of women in achieving development as he reviewed the Gabonese experience in the empowerment of women and the significant progress the country made towards the crafting of a constitution that enshrines the principle of equality and exploiting various measures to achieve them.
Mr. Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow, former Director-General (DG) of UNESCO, then stated that training programmes for youth and women in the field of peace and security are urgently needed and that peace is key to achieving development in all its forms.
In her address, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, First Lady of Nigeria, welcomed ICESCO’s proclamation of 2021 as the Year of Women, considering it an outstanding initiative that contributes to strengthening the role of women and supporting progress towards gender equality. She noted that the focus on youth plays a fundamental role in creating safe and stable societies.
Mr. Mohamed Senoussi II, Advocate of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, took the floor, stressing the importance of the role of youth and women, and emphasizing that the achievement of gender equality is essential to the realization of the values of democracy. He also noted that the deprivation of young people of opportunities makes them elements that contribute to creating a climate of instability.
In her address, FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura, praised ICESCO’s initiative and its great contribution to building a more equal, peaceful, progressive, and resilient society. She expressed FIFA’s belief that soccer is a key factor in combating violence and anchoring tolerance and dialogue.
For her part, Mrs. Jamila El-Moussali, Moroccan Minister of Solidarity, Social Development, Equality and Family, praised ICESCO’s quality initiative and its focus on youth and women and reviewed the Kingdom’s pioneering experience in involving young women in decision-making, as well as its focus on women and its efforts to ensure that women can assume their rightful place.
In his address at the opening ceremony, Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, DG of ICESCO, expressed the objective of the training programme, most notably highlighting the central role that youth and women play in laying a solid foundation for peaceful, inclusive, and cohesive societies.
He added that ICESCO’s interest in women and youth stems from their ability to make a change in peacebuilding, considering it an essential condition for achieving development and that the beneficiaries of the programme will receive a series of training in several areas, including the concepts of ethical leadership, capacity building, peacebuilding skills and peace-related best practices, in addition to networking skills.
The DG of ICESCO expressed the hope that the beneficiaries, through the acquisition of these skills, would be able to translate their ideas into concrete projects for which the Organization could provide seed funding for implementation in their countries.
The opening session closed with the screening of a musical film entitled: “The Black Panther” and a video presentation of the “Class of 2021,” which ICESCO’s Human and Social Sciences Sector produced.