The award celebrates the advancement of education for girls and women and takes into consideration for geographical distribution and gender balance.
Jurors represented five regions of the world to provide balance in the selection process: Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and North America, Asia and the Pacific, Arab States, and Africa.
The Women’s Centre was commended for helping young mothers continue with their education despite having children, and the Misr El Their Foundation was recognised for supporting young women’s education in the poorest villages of Egypt.
Peng Liyuan, China’s First Lady and UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls’ and Women’s Education, sent her congratulations to the two winners.
In a message to the winners, she said: “girls’ and women’s education is a great cause that empowers girls and women with the same opportunities to achieve their potentials as boys and men.
“It is an essential part of, and an important means to, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.”
The Chinese government set up the award in 2015 to encourage institutions to work harder at producing reputable education for women. Liyuan told UNESCO in 2017 that it is the winners of the award “and many others as devoted and hard-working as them who have made our world a better place. I wish to pay high tribute and express deep appreciation to them.”
The five jurors were:
Ms Aïcha Bah Diallo from Guinea who is a founding member of the Forum for African Women Educationalists and has lowered barriers related to education for girls and women.
Ms Hayat Sindi from Saudi Arabia who was the first woman appointed to the Shura Council, Saudi Arabia’s highest consultative body. She is also one of the world’s leading biotechnologists.
Ms Zheping Xie from China has worked in various professorship positions in the UK, China and has also worked at the EU-China Higher Education Cooperation Programme.
Mr Maxime Forest from France is a senior researcher in gender studies and an executive member of the French High Council for Gender Equality.
Ms Gloria Bonder from Argentina is the UNESCO regional chair for women, science, and technology in Latin America and the coordinator of the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender.