Irina Bokova

Director-General of UNESCO


Irina Bokova is the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Elected in 2009, she is the first woman to head the Organization. A Bulgarian national, Ms. Bokova graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations and studied at the University of Maryland and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in the United States. 

She has served as her country’s Secretary of State for European Integration and Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a diplomat at the Bulgarian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria to France and Monaco, and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. She participated in the drafting of Bulgaria’s new Constitution, which contributed to the country’s accession to the European Union. 

As Founder and Chairperson of the European Policy Forum, she worked to overcome divisions in Europe and promote the values of dialogue, diversity, human dignity and rights. She has been actively engaged in international efforts to advance education for all, gender equality, human rights and cultural dialogue.