Resolution adopted by consensus by the 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Havana, 6 April 2001)

The 105th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Mindful that more than fifty years have passed since every person's right to education and to participate in the cultural life of the community was set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which also asserts that elementary education shall be compulsory and that technical and professional education shall be made generally available,

Calling attention to the right to development established in the Declaration on the Right to Development, and reaffirmed at the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna from 14 to 25 June 1993,

Referring to the report entitled "Our Creative Diversity" by the World Commission on Culture and Development, the report "Learning: The Treasure Within" prepared for UNESCO by the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, the World Education Forum's Dakar Framework for Action "Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments", and the conclusions of the Stockholm Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development,

Aware of the many close links between education, culture, democracy and development, and stressing that education and culture are the basis for both democratic participation and economic and social progress,

Reaffirming its attachment to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and acknowledging that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, and that democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the peoples to choose their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of life,

Noting that environmental issues affect both developed and developing nations and place the survival of humankind at risk,

Aware of education's potential as an engine for progress in all dimensions of development - political, economic, social, cultural and ecological, and also aware that stagnant education systems and undervalued cultural traditions are a threat to democracy,

Stressing that the major obstacles encountered by women which are difficult to overcome by legislation are tradition and a mode of education that impose a distinction between men and women, deny women an education so condemning them to illiteracy, and maintain them in ignorance of their political rights; as well as economic obstacles, which deprive women of their right to education,

Mindful that education is both an important prerequisite for participation in cultural life and for democratic participation, and essential to the acceptance and development of democratic values in a process which must involve every person,

Aware that only strong cultural roots enable individuals and societies to develop critical awareness, shape the present and the future and meet the challenges they pose advisedly, and that protecting and preserving cultural heritage is therefore an important political task; also aware that cultures are in constant evolution, and believing that new trends, particularly globalisation, while linking cultures ever more closely and enriching interaction, may also pose a challenge to our creative diversity and to cultural pluralism, making mutual respect all the more imperative,

Recognising that education and cultural policies must take account of universal human rights while preserving cultural diversity, and should therefore promote and respect regional, national and universal values,

Also recognising that sustainable economic and social development requires broad democratic participation, which means taking into account the characteristics of the various cultures,

Further recognising that civil society is playing an increasingly significant role, especially in culture, and that one of the most important tasks of cultural policy is to afford creative energies the scope they need in order to develop,

Aware that modern information and communication technologies can facilitate and improve access to education and participation in the democratic process,

Fearing nonetheless that the gap between those who have access to education and culture and those who do not may continue to widen, education being a prerequisite for participation in the information society,

Recognising that globalisation implies not only enormous challenges for humanity but also opportunities, thanks in particular to the fantastic expansion of information and communications technologies which facilitates wider dissemination of universal human values, concerned nonetheless at the widening "knowledge gap" - the disparity in the capability of countries or groups within countries to participate in the gains of technological innovations and new means of communication - and at the fact that unequal access to both new and traditional means of cultural expression can seriously affect an individual's or a community's membership in, or exclusion from, the knowledge society,

Affirming that women's rights are an integral part of the social, economic, political and cultural human rights laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as such may on no account be infringed,

Underscoring that international commitments to the advancement of women and the introduction of appropriate national policies and programmes are matters that lie solely within the purview of States, which have to take account of social, economic and political circumstances, cultural and social values and national traditions,

Deeply concerned that in 2000, according to the World Education Forum, more than 100 million children and young people, especially girls, had no access to primary schooling and 880 million adults were illiterate,

  1. Asserts that education is a prerequisite for promoting sustainable development, securing a healthy environment, ensuring peace and democracy and achieving the objectives of combating poverty, slowing population growth, and creating equality between the sexes, and that culture is a fundamental component of the development process;

  2. Demands that women be given the benefits of education, literacy and vocational training programmes, and to this end suggests that:

    (a) Girls' schooling must be on a par with that of boys;

    (b) Governments, NGOs and other concerned bodies should organise awareness-building campaigns to encourage families to send their daughters to school;

    (c) Schooling for girls should be subsidised and school supplies provided free of charge in order to overcome any material difficulties;

    (d) Compulsory schooling should be as long for girls as for boys;

    (e) Efforts to combat adult illiteracy should be encouraged by introducing and implementing intensive programmes, with a view to promoting women's participation in political life;

    (f) In order to encourage women's participation in political life and raise awareness of their role in politics, curricula should include straightforward instruction on such matters at all levels;

    (g) Teaching curricula should be rid of all content implying any form of gender-based discrimination;

  3. Stresses the importance of cultural values and background to the social advancement of women and to a more balanced vision of men's and women's roles in public and private life, and the need to avoid undermining the cultural stability of societies or imposing values alien to the national culture. To that end, it would be useful to:

    (a) Foster gender equality and partnership in order to generate a synergy between men and women enabling them to cope equally with the problems of society;

    (b) Instil respect for the household duties that women traditionally perform and acknowledge that these duties should be shared between the sexes so that both may reconcile them with their social, professional and political activities;

    (c) Show examples and models of equality and complementarity between men and women, through education both at home and at school;

    (d) Make judicious use of the media to give a positive image of women's dynamic role in both the family and society; and develop women's skills and abilities by involving the media in programmes to disseminate the values and images established in national and international strategies for the advancement of women;

  4. Emphasises the need to design education and cultural policies that contribute significantly to sustainable political, social, environmental and economic development, in particular by improving access to education and culture;

  5. Stresses the importance of viewing education and cultural policies as key components of an independent and sustainable development policy and ensuring that they are implemented properly in coordination with policies in other fields; urges both developed and developing nations to reinforce environmental education in school curricula and in the media; stresses the important role that the media play in the treatment of issues relating to women and in shaping the dominant culture and values, and emphasises the need to instil in society a balanced vision of the role of women and ensure that both men and women enjoy the same cultural and political education;

  6. Underscores the need to promote knowledge and understanding of cultural and linguistic diversity through education and cultural policies and to develop such diversity in accordance with principles that foster peace, human rights and democracy;

  7. Calls for the adoption of cultural policies which help to ensure that every person is able to exercise his or her right to participate freely in cultural life, as set forth in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

  8. Emphasises the need to place education high among the priorities of national budgets and to promote actively education conducive to the mastery and creative use of science and new information technologies by the younger generations and the training of teachers in science and new technologies;

  9. Strongly emphasises that the development of education calls for a vast increase in international assistance to education in developing countries, urges that the latter be given all possible assistance in their efforts to promote democratic values through education, and recommends in particular promoting cooperation among developing countries so that they benefit from knowledge of other cultures and other experiences of development;

  10. Emphasises the importance of ensuring the financial and social independence of women, since financially independent women are more inclined to participate in political life; and to that end:

    • To take the necessary steps to promote women's access to vocational training and the job market on an equal footing with men;

    • To ensure that women have no difficulty in obtaining bank loans and credits, and to help them to set up small companies;

  11. Calls for the intensification of political efforts to preserve tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and advocates that every culture that respects others be accorded the right to equal acknowledgement of its identity;

  12. Urges all parliamentarians to familiarise themselves with the conventions relating to women's rights and the resolutions adopted by conferences on women, to publicise them through all local, national and regional bodies, and to take account of them in national legislation and strategies to improve the status of women;

  13. Calls on parliaments, governments and NGOs to step up their efforts to involve women actively in political and economic life, to alert developing countries to this issue and to make them aware of the need to eliminate prejudice against women;

  14. Implores all parliaments, governments, international agencies and NGOs to acknowledge the social, political and economic impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on men, women, and children, and to actively implement and/or accelerate educational programmes to curb the spread of the pandemic and to encourage people to retain HIV negative status;

  15. Calls for greater involvement of civil society in education and cultural policy;

  16. Expresses its conviction that all States must promote, at every stage of education, an active civic learning process enabling all to become acquainted with their history and cultural roots, the functioning and activities of local, national and international political institutions, to become familiar with the procedures for settling fundamental issues and to participate in the cultural life of the community and in public affairs, focusing in particular on gender equality, and stresses that such participation should as far as possible result in ever closer ties between education and action to resolve local, national and international problems;

  17. Underscores the importance of utilising modern information and communication media to facilitate access to education and culture while respecting the rights to freedom of opinion and freedom of information set forth in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

  18. Stresses the need to encourage the active participation of civil society in the media in order to draw attention to the issues addressed by this resolution;

  19. Emphasises the necessity of developing the technical infrastructure of modern information and communication systems in such a way that they can be used by as many people as possible, and of promoting new media skills through education and training programmes; calls for wide-ranging efforts by developed countries to bridge the digital divide by actively providing developing countries with both technical assistance and support for education in information technologies, and urges States to monitor Internet sites and ban access to unacceptable ones, particularly child pornography;

  20. Invites States and other players to work actively to close the gender gap and to make education for women and girls the top priority of education policy; urges States to adopt cultural policies that respect gender equality and fully recognise women's equality of rights and freedom of expression, thereby ensuring their ability to participate fully in all aspects of cultural, economic, social and political life; and calls for the involvement of women in the preparation and implementation of general development policies, in which they are both actors and beneficiaries;

  21. Stresses the need to implement the education policy commitments adopted by the World Education Forum in its Dakar Framework for Action "Education For All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments" and the "World Declaration on Education for All" as swiftly and effectively as possible, in particular by:

    • Ensuring that by 2015 all children, especially girls, children in difficult circumstances and children from ethnic minorities, have access to free, high-quality compulsory primary education and complete such education;

    • Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in adult literacy levels by 2015;

    • Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015;

    • Backing UNESCO in its task of mobilising and orchestrating support for countries in their efforts to fulfil the Education for All (EFA) commitments at national, regional and international level;

  22. Calls for regional and international cooperation in the field of education and cultural policy, in order to respond to the challenges of globalisation and technological progress;

  23. Calls on the members of the IPU to report on the implementation of and follow-up to this resolution through the reporting mechanism established within the IPU.

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