UNESCO Forum addresses Transforming Mentalities, Building Change and Women’s Empowerment


UNESCO, Paris - "Every political promise is addressed to children, every genuine commitment requires confronting the challenge of transmission. From a spiritual, metaphysical and human point of view, we can't invent a new world without newborn babies" - Jean Birnbaum, from his book "Seuls les enfants changent le monde" (Only children change the world).

We referred to this powerful quote at the recent two-day 15th International Forum ‘Transforming mentalities’, where we spoke on behalf of mothers around the world.

Organized by the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee, which represents the community of NGOs in Official Partnership with UNESCO, the Forum took place on 24th and 25th January 2024 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Its aim was to ‘gather examples of good practices in challenging stagnant discriminations and inequalities within societies and build concrete recommendations for action at various levels’.

Our President Anne-Claire de Liedekerke took part in the session ‘building change’ and delivered some key messages:

  • If we want to change the world and transform mentalities, we have to care for the next generations, for our children
  • And it’s worth remembering that parents – mothers and fathers – are children’s first educators
  • Then, we need to support mothers and recognize their invaluable contribution to our social and economic systems: throughout the world, women – the majority being mothers – perform more than 76% of care work (16 billion hours a day). In our GDP-centric economic system, this unpaid work is unmeasured, unrecognized and invisible
  • When mothers are unrecognized and discriminated against, children suffer too. How can we pretend to change mentalities if we don’t support mothers, the guardians of future generations?

Ending her address, Anne-Claire stressed that we need to ‘change mentalities by working for and with mothers’, reminding the audience that MMM is proud to count among its members many associations that work on the ground with mothers, supporting and empowering them.

Our former Project Director and a member of the Forum Steering Committee, Caroline de Senneville moderated a panel discussion ‘Approaches to Women’s Empowerment’, giving the floor to leaders of international NGOs doing global advocacy and supporting sterling grassroots work – to educate and support women and girls in all their diversity.

Caroline reminded the audience that we can’t talk about transforming mentalities without talking about gender equality and the place of women in the world in 2024, in economic, social, political and cultural terms. That according to UN Women, at the current rate of progress, it will take 286 years for the world to achieve gender equality.

Her panel included Ute Scholz, President of Zonta International, Magdie de Kock, World President of Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), Dr Catherine Bosshart, Vice President of Business and Professional Women for UN matters, International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW Intl.), and Maureen Maguire, International President of Soroptimist International.

More information on the Forum ‘Changing mentalities’ is available here.

Read Anne-Claire de Liedekerke’s speech


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