Female Student Network Trust (FSNT), an organisation that advocates the rights of female students in tertiary institutions, raised the national flag high when it won the first edition of the unesco Prize for Girls and Women’s Education.FSNT and the Directorate of Early Childhood Education in the Indonesian ministry of Education beat 51 other nominees to land the prestigious global award. The two laureates will each receive an award of $50 000 at an official ceremony in Beijing, China, next week.
The prize is funded by the Government of China. In a statement, unesco directorgeneral Mrs Irina Bokova announced the two laureates of the first edition of the global prize in recognition of their innovative projects. FSNT was recognised for its initiative titled “Empowerment of Tertiary Education Female Students through Leadership Development and Mentorship Programmes.” The initiative stems from a baseline survey which explored the indicators, prevalence and awareness level of sexual harassment within learning environments, particularly in tertiary education.
It advocates improving the accountability of authorities in creating favourable learning environments for girls and women. The organisation works with Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and Women’s Affairs ministries and carries out policy, advocacy, counselling and legal support as well as mentorship programmes.
The Indonesian Directorate of Early Childhood Education was rewarded for its project: “Improving Access and Quality of Girls’ Education through CommunityBased Early Childhood Education and EarlyYear Gender Mainstreaming”. “The two organisation will each receive an award of US$50 000 during an official ceremony in Beijing, China, as part of an international seminar on girls and women’s education from 4 to 8 June 2016,” said Mrs Bokova.
She said the unesco Prize for Girls and Women’s Education was established by unesco’s executive board last year to honour the outstanding contributions and innovations of individuals, institutions and organizations engaged in promoting and advancing girls and women’s education. “It is the first UNESCO prize to address this theme,” said Bokova. “The prize contributes to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals four on education and five on gender, quality and supports UNESCO’s global priorities included in the Mediumterm Strategy 20142021 and the Gender Equality Action Plan 20142021 (GEAP11).
” Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo commended the FSNT for its efforts which earned the organization international recognition. He said the award was not for them alone as an organisation but for the nation at large. Prof Moyo described the award as a “very instructive intervention” calling the government’s attention to serious problems bedeviling the country’s higher and tertiary education institutions.
“There is need for these institutions to come up with viable policies to deal with the problem of sexual harassment,” he said. “We understand that generally the expectation would be for these institutions to deal with this challenge themselves as part of their responsibility. They do indeed try but it is not always the case that higher and tertiary institutions prioritise interventions that address the problem. “It is therefore significant that we get a complementary role from civil society that education is not just the responsibility for the institutions, but it is a collective responsibility. That society creates a conducive learning environment.”
The call for nominations was made on March 8, the day set aside for commemorating International Women’s Day. The laureates were seclected by the director general of UNESCO on the basis of recommendations of an international jury that met on May 4 and 5. A total of 53 nominations were submitted to the UNESCO from around the globe. Zimbabwe submitted three nominees—Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) Zimbabwe, FNST and Shamwari Yemwanasikana.