Source: unic.org
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Growing up in Morocco in the 1960s and early 1970s United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador Nawal El Moutawakel had personal experience of the ills that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seek to eliminate.

“I personally lived these difficulties… access to education, women's empowerment, environmental protection, improvement in health,” she told the UN News Centre today on the margins of the MDG Summit in New York. “I had experiences in all these fields linked to my personal life, to that of my country.”

But by strength of will Ms. El Moutawakel went on to become the first female Muslim from Africa to win an Olympic gold medal when she came first in the 1984 400 metres hurdles. From 2007 to 2009 she was Morocco's minister of sports.

She stressed the overriding importance of gender equality in education. “An educated woman is an educated family and an educated country since women represent more than half the population in most countries today,” she said. “When women have no access to education all other (MDG) efforts are doomed to fail.

“Access to primary education is vital since it has a run-on impact on all other MDGs, it even determines the success and survival of some, like women's empowerment.”