Harnessing Strength in Hardships, Fighting Disease for Development

ByYe Shan June 22, 2020

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has expanded to and affected many countries. The All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) sent 45 letters of consolation to women's organizations and institutions as well as overseas Chinese women's organizations, which have been severely stricken by the disease. The ACWF extended sincere concerns and support, and shared Chinese women and women's federations' practices China has accumulated when containing and eradicating the COVID-19. The ACWF expressed its hope and determination to enhance international cooperation and make joint efforts to combat the disease. By launching small-scaled assistance projects and using special funds of the China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF), the ACWF donated medical goods, including medical-use masks, child-use masks and protective suits, to more than 10 countries severely affected by COVID-19.

Women's organizations and institutions from countries such as Russia, Romania, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, as well as the European Women's Lobby, the Catalonia Association of Chinese Women in Spain and the European Chinese Women's General Association all made replies shortly after they received ACWF's letters. Those replies expressed gratitude to the ACWF, and they offered best wishes to Chinese women. They also expressed hope of working with the ACWF to combat COVID-19 and to embrace a promising future together.

Svetlana Orlova, former Vice-President of the Russian Federation Committee and Russia's Chairperson of the China-Russia Friendship Committee for Peace and Development (CRFCPD)'s Women's Council, wrote that she was sincerely grateful for ACWF's support in Russia's fight against COVID-19. Orlova said she hoped to soon relaunch cooperative activities under the framework of CRFCPD's Women's Council.

Viorica Dancila, former Prime Minster of Romania and President of the Social Democratic Women Organization of Romania, expressed gratitude to the ACWF for the support it gave to Romania during the hard time this year. "The experience and the assistance granted by China to Romania are of great value. We firmly believe that this difficult time will be over soon and our long and proven friendship and partnership will be enhanced to a new level and we will continue to develop new projects together," Dancila wrote.

Zamira Akbagysheva, President of the Congress of Women of Kyrgyz Republic, said the good wishes from the ACWF gave Kyrgyz women hope and encouraged them to stay united and strong during the hard time. The ACWF was a pioneer, who set a good example in combating COVID-19. The Congress of Women of Kyrgyz Republic will make a plan to fight against the disease, according to ACWF's mode and will cooperate with the ACWF to carry out more activities beneficial to the strengthening of the friendship between Kyrgyzstan and China, Akbagysheva wrote.

Charmaine Hidayatullah, President of the All-Pakistan Women's Association, wrote, "It is very encouraging to know that China has controlled this deadly virus and has set an exemplary example in the world."

Elysia McCaffrey, Interim Director of the Government Equalities Office of the United Kingdom, said she highly appreciated ACWF's letter, which was sent at the challenging time of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. She said the donation of 200,000 disposable medical masks to the NHS, made by the ACWF, CWDF and Tencent Company, was greatly valued by front-line NHS staff. She added world leaders recognized the need to come together to overcome the pandemic, and to tackle its health, social and economic impacts.

Christine Bernabeu, President of the French Association H.E.R.A. Transcontinentale, held a teleconference with her association's members, during which she read ACWF's letter. Many of the members were moved to tears and expressed their willingness to unite and to overcome the disease.

Sylvie Lausberg, President of the Council of Women of Belgium, expressed her gratitude for ACWF's letter during such a time of hardship and uncertainty. Lausberg said she believed a lesson should be learned from the fight against COVID-19, so people around the world could figure out how to create a more tranquil world and ensure women's actions could be better recognized by all. She said she hoped women's organizations in China and Belgium would soon join hands again to organize various events, and to make efforts together to help women achieve equal rights with men — based on agreements signed on papers and on facts. Struggles will be continued to fight against inequality faced by women, Lausberg added.

Monique Chalude, Honorary President of Amazon Women's Rights and Resources Center of Belgium, said only by forming international unity and peace and by sharing good practices, can people make the most efficient plan to combat the disease. The COVID-19 outbreak forced people to reconsider the priorities of society, families and individuals in a post-crisis era. Chalude also said she was looking forward to seeing her friends from the ACWF again in the near future.

Mette Kaae Hansen, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Department for Gender Equality of Denmark, replied, "The spread of the new coronavirus has indeed created an extraordinary situation for the world and for our two countries. Containing the virus will require effective responses at both the global and national levels, as well as close international cooperation and information sharing." The year 2020 is a particularly important year for gender equality and women's rights. Hansen mentioned many of the events originally planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and The Platform for Action (Beijing+25) have been postponed. However, "Denmark is looking forward to celebrating Beijing+25 when this again becomes possible. Together we will uphold gender equality and women's rights, especially in difficult times like these," Hansen added.

The Federation of Icelandic Women's Societies expressed gratitude to the ACWF for lending a helping hand and for remaining a friend during this hard time. The medical masks donated by the ACWF were transferred to hospitals in Iceland and will be fully used by medical workers.

Gwendoline Lefebvre, President of European Women's Lobby, share some of the policy documents in struggle for women's rights and equality between women and men, and which calls to put equality between women and men at the heart of the response to COVID-19. "We look forward to having the opportunity again in the not-too-distant future to continue our common goal of achieving equality between women and men in a safer and better world for all," Lefebvre wrote.

Representatives of overseas Chinese women's organizations, such as Guan Jie, President of Catalonia Association of Chinese Women in Spain, and Xiong Guoxiu, former President of the European Chinese Women's General Association, sent WeChat messages to express their gratitude to the ACWF for its encouragement, concerns and support. They said they would lead their respective organizations' members in trying to protect themselves, and they vowed to answer their local governments' calls to contain and combat the disease.

In today's deeply integrated world, people around the world are forming a community of shared future. Facing an unprecedented situation caused by COVID-19, all countries ought to make efforts together to help the world contain the disease, enable economic and social development and help people's lives return to normal as soon as possible.


(Women of China)


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