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NO. 42 OCT 15, 2015
Gender Equality Remains a Priority
Voices calling for gender equality and women's development are becoming louder with the completion of the Millennium Development Goals and the initiation of the post-2015 development agenda
By Zhang Zhiping | NO. 42 OCTOBER 15, 2015

 
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at a recent UN meeting that China would donate $10 million to UN Women, the UN agency promoting women's rights. It will also host 30,000 women from other developing countries for training programs and provide 100,000 skills training opportunities in local communities of these countries in the next five years.

The announcement came at the Global Leaders' Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, which President Xi co-chaired on September 27. The event, a follow-up to a UN conference on gender equality held in Beijing 20 years ago, was jointly organized by the Chinese Government and UN Women.

Xi's promise shows China's commitment to working with the international community to promote gender equality and demonstrates the country's determination to uphold this principle as a basic state policy. Since hosting the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995, the Chinese Government, which believes as Chairman Mao Zedong once said, "Women hold up half the sky," has consistently improved its laws and regulations regarding women's rights and interests. It has successfully promoted gender equality and women's development through the implementation of new policies and development plans.

In recent years, China has adopted or revised over 20 laws and regulations regarding women's rights and interests, including the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women and Employment Promotion Law. A legal framework aimed at safeguarding women's rights and interests and promoting gender equality has taken shape. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) also includes concrete goals for women's all-round development. The National Working Committee on Children and Women, established in 1990, supervises and urges departments concerned to advance the role of women in various sectors.

Shortly before the UN meeting, the Chinese Government published a white paper on gender equality and women's development, which provides a comprehensive overview of the country's progress in these fields, in addition to looking at China's policies regarding women overall.

For instance, the document points out that women's right to employment has been fortified. In 2013, women accounted for 45 percent of employed workers in China, and the education gap between men and women has shrunk. Also, women's health has consistently improved, as evidenced by the fact that their life expectancy reached 77 years in 2010, an increase of four years from 2000. The proportion of women in management and decision-making roles has improved as well, with female deputies making up 23.4 percent of the total at the First Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, in 2013. This represents a 2.4-percentage-point increase over the 1993 NPC session. The number of impoverished women has dropped precipitously. In nearly 600 of the poorest counties in China--the main targets of national poverty alleviation and development work--women's poverty rate was 9.8 percent in 2010, a sharp decrease from 20.3 percent in 2005.

Women's rights are drawing an increasing amount of attention worldwide. Voices calling for gender equality and women's development are becoming louder with the completion of the Millennium Development Goals and the initiation of the post-2015 development agenda. As President Xi said at the UN meeting in September, without women, there would be no human beings or society, and without their liberation and progress, there would be no liberation or progress for mankind.

China has maintained close contact with the UN and supports its endeavors to promote gender equality worldwide. For instance, it hosted meetings in 1998, 2000, 2005 and 2010, respectively, to commemorate the 1995 World Conference for Women, which provided platforms for countries to communicate with one another on women's issues. It has also played a constructive role in the establishment and operation of UN Women, which was created by the UN General Assembly in 2010.

It should be noted that despite its remarkable progress in the past decades, China has yet to realize complete gender equality. This is particularly true in remote and underdeveloped regions where women haven't been afforded proper attention and are even discriminated against when seeking education and employment.

In short, women's development and gender equality still require persistent efforts in China and the international community at large.

Copyedited by Jordyn Dahl

Comments to zhangzhiping@bjreview.com

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