Women hold up half of the sky. This is what Chairman Mao said in 1968. The famous saying echoed at the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Secretary of the event, Helvi Sipila, said in her opening speech that the consequences of this phrase was just as great an event in human history as the discovery of the "New Continent".
At the 1995 conference the Chinese government established the position of "Making gender equality one of the basic State policies, whilst in the process pushing forward our country's social progress."
The UN meeting became a milestone in human history for improving women's social status and promoting gender equality throughout the world. The idea was laid down in the benchmark document of the conference--- "Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action（1995）"---that made gender equality mainstream and became an accepted development strategy in many countries around the world.
Since the conference, China has made great strides in promoting gender equality. Yet, many problems and challenges remain. For example, the birth ratio in China is still out of sync. The education gap between young women in rural and urban areas is still present. Sexual assault on left-behind children (whose parents go to find work in cities) in rural areas has increased. There are also many cases of infringement on the land rights of rural women. Rural left-behind women (whose husbands go to find work in cities) are still facing more pressure and difficulties. And in the cities, migrant women from rural areas are facing the challenges of social integration and in receiving social welfare and benefits. Incomes of urban women are still lower than men.
These problems need to be solved with great efforts. To solve these problems, the basic state policy on gender equality needs to be implemented along with the mainstreaming strategy called upon by the UN.
A priority among all these measures is to develop a solid legal framework on which to protect women's rights and interests, since only with a well-developed legal system can women's involvement in social issues and their development be ensured.
Chinese people should be confident in the future since the new leadership led by President Xi Jinping has paid much attention to gender equality and women's development. They set very concrete aims at protecting women's rights and interests.
However, for attaining such aims, people from all walks of life in China still need to unite and cooperate in making great efforts for the implementation of the basic State policy of gender equality in the economic, political, cultural, social and ecological spheres. This is the best way of celebrating the 20th anniversary of the holding of the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
(Source: wsic.ac.cn/ Translated and edited by Women of China)
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