Experts to Discuss Gender Equality at Beijing Forum

March 31, 2016
By Zhang JiaEditor: Frank Zhao
Experts to Discuss Gender Equality at Beijing Forum

Yang Lan [File photo/Xinhua]

An international women's forum is set to kick off in Beijing tomorrow, aimed at tackling and discussing gender equality.

Attendees at the three-day Her Village International Forum 2016 are expected to discuss related issues in an increasing inclusive society and renew efforts to gain public recognition for both sexes, with the joint efforts of women along with their male peers.

The gathering is not intended to blame men for inequality or make enemies of the group, said Yang Lan, founder of the forum and president of a Beijing-based media company.

"The enemies of women are the concepts and systems that oppress them," noted Yang. "The history of women's liberation is a history of both sexes jointly combating gender discrimination. Gender equality is a born right for both women and men."

As the theme of this year's forum has been set as "Inclusive Society, True Friendship", Yang has invited male and female guests from home and abroad to attend.

Some of the guests are Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister; Barbara Woodward, British Ambassador to China; Sun Qixiang, dean of the School of Economy at Peking University; and Yang Yuanqing, president of Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo.

After she attended a job interview with China Central Television (CCTV) 20 years ago, where they specified they would only consider an attractive presenter, Yang has committed herself to the improvement of gender equality ever since.

"Why do job ads require female candidates to be good looking?" Yang has since kept asking.

When she succeeded in business, she was always questioned on how she balances family and career. "Why are successful males never asked about this?" challenged Yang.

To explore realistic ways to improve gender equality, Yang finally established the forum in 2014, which has since been held annually and attracted a number of male and female celebrities and established guests to attend.

Yang said that one of the noteworthy topics for this year's forum is "shared parental leave". "International practice indicated that employers will have more worries when recruiting women if parental leave is only extended on women's end," she explained.

"We think that public policies should encourage men to take parental leave, too. In each Chinese family, the father's role is missing and a mother is worrying."

To grant men leave will allow fathers to shoulder the responsibilities of and enjoy raising children, and allow couples to better balance their jobs and families, says Yang.

In addition, the forum and its partners will jointly urge enterprises to provide women with more promotion opportunities and private breastfeeding rooms.

"Current concepts have it that women have no rights to pursue careers unless they can take good care of their husbands and babies," said Yang. "By sharp contrast, successful males are rarely required to do so."

Yang stressed that women should be offered more support and improved environment. "I believe this is what our society can make happen," she concluded.

(Source: Beijing Youth Daily/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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