A special forum on cultural and social issues affecting women who live along the Lancang-Mekong River basin, which runs from southwest China to Vietnam, was held from October 19-22 in Beijing.
The forum was co-sponsored by China Women's University (CWU), China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and the ASEAN-China Centre.
Women leaders, specialists and scholars from China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam attended the opening ceremony, along with some 200 officials and delegates from the relevant departments, international organizations and foreign embassies in China.
Qi Mingqiu, vice-chairperson of the Song Ching Ling Foundation, gave a speech at the gathering. As a natural bond, the river itself cultivates a common culture for the six countries, which also enjoy their own unique features. Qi hoped that all participants could communicate with each other and contribute to international development cooperation related to women's issues.
The director of the China-ASEAN Comprehensive Coordination Department Huang Ying also delivered a speech at the event. She expressed her hope that more foresight and practical experience on women's development could be shared during the forum so as to benefit women's development in the region.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of relations between China and ASEAN, the event gained support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC (MFA). Cao Jing, director of the Regional Cooperation Section at the MFA's Department of Asian Affairs, said that the Chinese government has attached great importance to the forum and hopes the event will help promote the existent cooperation in Southeast Asia and realize the common development of women in these regions.
Long Sophally, assistant minister of the Cambodian Women's Affairs Office, expressed her opinion that enhancing women's exchanges along the Lancang-Mekong River will contribute to the mutual trust and cooperation among the related countries and promote gender equality worldwide.
Li Mingshun, chairperson of the CWU Council, pointed out that cooperation among countries around the Lancang-Mekong River is a move taken in further response to President Xi's recent remarks on building the China-Asia Community of Common Destiny, as well as a regional development scheme launched by China.
Promoting women's education is an effective way to cultivate women's capabilities and convert the stereotypes of women. It's also the path a country must take to improve women's status and promote women's liberation, Li added. In addition, Li introduced CWU's experiences and achievements in talent cultivation, international communication and women's empowerment.
During the conference, the organizers also held three sub-forums related to women's issues, including "Women and Social Governance", "Women's Economic Empowerment" and "Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection and Women's Development."
CWU's former president, Zhang Lixi, made a concluding speech at the end of the forum. She fully affirmed the accomplishments made by different nations across the world and pointed out the direction of women's studies in the future, including the impact of the wealth gap on women's progress, the diversification of women's organizations, the policy-maker's social gender awareness and challenges for female entrepreneurs in the internet era.
By strengthening ties between China and relevant NGOs, and by maintaining peaceful, sustainable development across Southeast Asia, organizers hoped to further enrich international dialogue and cooperation, said officials.
(Source: China Women's University/Translated and edited by Gender Study Network)
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