Global Women University Presidents Gather in Wuhan to Show Women's Voices

 May 3, 2018

Some 150 women university presidents, experts, and scholars from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and 51 countries and regions around the world attended the 8th World Women University Presidents Forum (WWUPF) in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, on April 8.

Previous forums over the past years have been held in Beijing, Nanjing, Xiamen, and Taipei; the latter three all being located in the south of China.

This is the first time for the forum to be held in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Irina Bokova, former Director General of UNESCO, explained that Wuhan is one of the oldest and most civilized metropolises in China. Located at the crossing of the Yangtze and Han rivers, it has always been a city integrating education, innovation, and inheritance.

"I started working as the director-general of UNESCO on November 1, 2017 when I awarded Wuhan the title of 'City of Design' to commend its innovative stimulation on design." Bokova said.

"So, we chose to host the forum in Wuhan University, a world-class university, which contributed a lot in those fields, such as science, technology, and humanities," she added.

Wuhan University established the Women's Research Center, whose standing vice-president position has been occupied by a woman since 1993. The former State Councilor Chen Zhili, also former President of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), said: "In China, female labor forces' participation reached 70 percent, ranking first around the world and exceeding the average 43 percent."

The women university presidents present all talked about female leadership in the higher-education field.

Deborrah Terry, from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha), said that there exists one female university president among six university presidents in America, with the proportion changing ever year.

Malata, President of The Malawi University of Science and Technology, was just nominated in 2018, and is also the country's first woman university president.

Malata said: "In my own country, women are not expected to speak out their ideas, and our culture encourages them to be listeners. However, I often teach my students to speak more and make their ideas known by others."

University President Zhang Jiayi from Tamkang University in south China's Taiwan Island said that according to the statistics of 2018, there were 34 women presidents in the world’s top-200 universities. There are four female university presidents in the eight universities of the IVY League, as well as the University of Oxford, the top university in the world.

"I thought this was an exciting piece of information," Zhang added.

Vice-President Rita Blank from Universidad de La Habana said: "In Cuba, 66 percent of women are equipped with higher technology and professional qualifications, whilst 52 percent of the members of Parliament are women. However, before the Cuban Revolution, which took place in 1953, only a few women could read and write."

She added that now 90 percent of the directors and deans in those departments are female.

(Source: Xinhua/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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