Expo 2020 Dubai: Women’s Pavilion discusses forced marriages, female education

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The Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai hosted a symposium on Monday that brought together young female activists from Egypt, Lebanon and Africa to highlight the impact of challenges such as gender-based violence, forced child marriage and a lack of access to education.

The symposium, entitled ‘We can! Girls’ Voices for Girls’ Empowerment’, was appropriately being held on the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child, which supports more opportunities for females and increases the awareness of gender inequality. The discussion was hosted by UK-based NGO Save the Children.

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In her speech, the symposium’s guest speaker, Egyptian TV anchor Mona El Shazly, emphasized education as a basic right of all children. She encouraged the expansion of community classes initiated by UNICEF in remote areas where there are few schools, and creating curricula for specific communities. She also pointed out the dangers of parents depriving their children of education.

Entrepreneur and activist Sarah Al Madani said that society needs to change to accept women as powerful figures. “Instead of hiding behind outdated cultures, customs and traditions, we must begin seriously to change them,” she said. “Social reform starts from within the family, and we must focus our efforts on educating the new generation.”

The participants were agreed on their opposition to forced child marriage, and their desire to facilitate the access of education for girls all over the world, simultaneously creating a safe environment for them.

In a virtual message, Nouneh Sarkissian, wife of the President of Armenia, UNICEF advocate for children and an author, stressed the importance of women in positions of power. Environments conducive to this development should be encouraged, involving women in the decision-making process at senior levels.

The Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 tackles key issues of concern to women, as a partner for building a promising future, and highlights the contributions made by women to the advancement of societies.

Over 182 days, more than 200 participants – including nations, multilateral organizations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors – aim to come together to create the largest and most diverse World Expo ever.

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