- Former Director-General, Irina Bokava gives an invitational lecture at Sookmyung Women’s University
On Tuesday, March 26, there was a lecture by UNESCO’s former Director-General, Irina Bokova at Sookmyung’s Centennial Hall. Irina Bokova, the 10th Director-General of UNESCO, gave a lecture on ‘WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT AND GLOBAL LEADERSHIP.’ and a total of 110 attendees actively shared diverse opinions and questions.
This lecture focused on the shared goal of the UN and global society, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set for the years 2016 to 2030. Comprised of 17 goals, SDGs are aiming to solve humankind’s problems such as gender equality, refugees, and poverty; environmental issues like climate change and energy; as well as socio-economic problems such as social structure related to production and consumption. Among the 17 SDGs, this lecture especially focused on gender equality and issues regarding women, which drew the students’ interest in the future of women’s education, women’s roles in peacekeeping, and the competence women should have in a global society, as well as global citizenship.
Upon mentioning the increasing wage gap, former chief Bokova pointed the path our society should be going by commenting, “Economy and society can advance once women and men are treated equally.” Furthermore, she asserted “The sexual discrimination problem prevalent around the world stems from unequal education,” highlighting that women should be given equal chances for education, while also putting in effort to improve women’s educational environment. Referring to the fact that the proportion of women in fields related to science and technology is 30%, which is significantly low compared to men, she encouraged students to take part in professional areas of technology and science.
After the lecture, there was a Q&A session. One student commented, “Although Korea has a high level of education, there still exists a problem of ‘glass ceiling.’ In the worst cases, some women lose their jobs or are forced to retire when she is pregnant,” asking her for the solution. To this question Bokova replied, “This is a worldwide problem beyond Korea for women that needs to be solved.” In addition, she suggested ‘creating a flexible working environment’ and ‘improving the working environment for women,’ as solutions to this problem.
Another student asked her for advice on people who do not take global warming and environmental issues seriously. For this question, Bokova pointed out that the word ‘global warming’ does not arouse enough awareness from people. She suggested that it is important for people to understand the proper meaning of this problem. Subsequently, a student asked if there were any messages she wants to give to the younger generations who are mistaking the definition of ‘feminism’ in the midst of arousing gender issues. Bokova replied, “These days, there has been a change in how people approach feminism. Feminism is a matter of gender equality, not a clash between two genders.” She also added, “Men’s participation for women’s rights is the way to help this society and this country.”
Bokova, the former Director-General of UNESCO’s lecture has been complemented by students for reminding them that providing equal opportunities and education for women is crucial for the society and is an important goal for the sustainable development of the world.