"Most of the time, world poverty has a female face," said the director-general of UNESCO, which recently opened an office in Brussels to strengthen collaboration and develop further synergies with the EU.
The inauguration of the liaison office took place on 16 February, when Bokova visited Brussels and met European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
Bokova, who gave the interview on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of International Women's Day, said she had invested personal ambition in the new opening, as the EU and UNESCO share the same strategic goals.
Bokova said UNESCO had two "horizontal" priorities – Africa and gender equality. She explained that some progress had been made achieved over the last ten or twenty years, but in some aspects there had also been a number of negative trends.
As such, she said violence against women persists, with rape in particular being used as a weapon of war. The UN considers rape as part of the tactics of war and a threat to international security. Many cases have been reported in Liberia and more recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur.
She said that the situation of girls' education had worsened south of the Sahara Desert. "Before 1999, according to statistics of 100 children leaving school early, 79 were girls. This year they number 82 and this reveals a deepening of the crisis," Bokova said.
The UNESCO director-general commented on the unfolding revolutions in the Arab world, which she said were an expression of the natural democratic aspirations of people all over the globe.
But she voiced concern that the situation might deteriorate once the democratic surge has subsided.
"I'm thinking of Tunisia: it was the first country in the region where after independence [in 1956] women obtained equal rights, the right to vote and to be elected, but then the situation deteriorated, as we know. It would be extremely disappointing if something similar were to happen again," Bokova said.
Bulgarian national Bokova was asked to comment on the role of women in East European societies.
She said that to a large extent, women in Eastern Europe had taken upon themselves the hardships of transition.
"It has not been easy for them, but as a whole, women in Eastern Europe are very combative, with the process of democratisation and change unleashing the huge energy they had. Today, many such women hold high office in business, in politics,: Bokova said.