Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s former president and director of the new international agency UN Women, was awarded the UNESCO Valldigna award this year, along with Federico Mayor Zaragoza, the former UNESCO general director.
Winners from past years include the late Valencian philosopher, sociologist and political scientist, José Vidal-Beneyto, and the former European commissioner for International Relations and Commercial relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, as well as Andrés Iniesta from the Spanish soccer team, FC Barcelona.
Each year the award selects a different theme. The chosen theme this year was “Women, Peace and the Mediterranean”. The organization revealed that they are promoting the participation of women in democracy – a goal near and dear to Bachelet.
At the first anniversary of UNESCO’s Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education in May, Bachelet, a strong advocate for women’s rights throughout her presidency, shared her thoughts on the current state of women’s rights in the world. She announced that education is a basic human right. It is also a vital component for economic growth and social change. She underscored that it is the basis for women’s empowerment.
She congratulated UNESCO’s efforts in the area to date, while at the same time clarifying common misconceptions about the meaning of gender equality. She expressed that gender equality is about access and participation in education, as well as the ability to benefit from gender-sensitive environments. That, in her opinion, translates into greater overall participation in social, economic, and political development.
The awards were announced by UNESCO president Luis Ramallo at the “Multaqa of the Three Cultures” which was celebrated at the Santa María de la Valldigna Monastery. The multaqa, which translates to “friendly encounter” in Arabic, aspired to unite the three main cultures of the Mediterranean through dynamic cultural activities.
Bachelet will receive her award in October of this year in Valencia.