The All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), in collaboration with the Commission of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (GNFCC SCO) and the Secretariat of the SCO, held the SCO Forum on Women's Education and Poverty Reduction in Beijing on July 20, 2021.
Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and a special envoy of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the advancement of girls' and women's education, addressed the forum via video. Shen Yueyue, Vice-Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, President of the ACWF and President of the GNFCC SCO, attended and addressed the forum. Huang Xiaowei, Vice-President and First Member of the Secretariat of the ACWF, and Vice-Chairperson of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, presided.
Peng called for making concerted and persistent efforts to deepen cooperation on women's education and poverty reduction. She made the remarks while addressing via video link the SCO Forum on Women's Education and Poverty Reduction.
Noting eliminating poverty and embracing happiness represent the common ideal for women, and education will bring women the power to get rid of poverty, Peng said China has scored a complete victory in the fight against poverty and hundreds of millions of women in China have shaken off poverty.
China has taken a series of measures to ensure women are equally entitled to education, and they become beneficiaries, participants and contributors in the fight against poverty, Peng said.
She mentioned a program by the local government in Southwest China's Guizhou Province to develop the specialty industry of women's handicrafts, and Zhang Guimei, a headmaster, helping girls in poverty-stricken mountainous areas realize their college dream.
Peng pointed out that, currently, there are still 435 million women living in poverty globally amid stark educational gaps between the genders and new challenges facing poverty alleviation brought by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Hailing women's role in promoting the SCO's development over the past 20 years since its founding, Peng called for joining hands and persisting in deepening cooperation on women's education and poverty reduction, adding this would light up the path of hope for women through education and bring women more opportunities to make life better.
In Shen's address, she noted that focusing on the common challenges women face during their development and sharing good practices in education and poverty reduction to advance development among SCO countries were the reasons for holding the forum. Education and poverty reduction are important priorities highlighted in the Platform for Action (issued in Beijing during the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995) and they are important goals in the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Shen said.
President Xi has stressed that "the aspiration of the people to live a better life must always be the focus of our efforts." As such, Shen added, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese Government have always prioritized the importance of eliminating poverty and improving education. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party has held firm to its people-centered philosophy of development, it has coped with various difficulties to reach the comprehensive victory in the battle of poverty alleviation, and it has explored a poverty-reduction path with Chinese characteristics, Shen explained. Chinese women have contributed their diligence, wisdom and hard work in the poverty-reduction fight and they have shaken off absolute poverty and achieved for themselves happy lives, Shen said.
The world is experiencing profound changes unseen in a century and leaders of SCO countries, who are standing at a point of new progress in history, have raised proposals to benefit people of their countries, Shen continued. SCO countries have inherited the "Shanghai Spirit" to meet the needs of a new era and the countries have drawn a new blueprint of "breathing the same air and sharing the same fate."
Shen called on SCO countries to continue advancing gender equality and women's poverty reduction, promote fair and qualified education, explore women and girls' potential in fulfilling self-development, enhance cooperation on women's education and poverty reduction, and support women of SCO countries to reach new progress.
Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Ziroat Mirziyoyeva, First Lady of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the "Zamin" International Public Foundation, Matloubkhon Sattoriyon, Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Rula Ghani, First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngeuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, and Vladimir Norov, Secretary-General of the SCO, addressed the forum via video link.
Lazzat Ramazanova, Chairperson of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan, Zamira Akbagysheva, President of the Congress of Women of Kyrgyz Republic, Sania Nishtar, Senator and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety of Pakistan, Yelena Bogdan, Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Women and First Deputy Healthcare Minister of Belarus, Oyungerel Batnasan, President of Mongolian Women's Federation, and Shri Daya Shankar, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development of India, gave speeches online.
Discussions centered on measures to advance women's education, poverty alleviation and the overall development of SCO countries. Participants agreed to uphold the "Shanghai Spirit" by deepening women's communications and cooperation, taking practical actions to support women's continuous poverty reduction, enhancing people-to-people connectivity among SCO countries, promoting women's development and making greater contributions to benefit women and children.
Approximately 200 participants attended the forum. Participants from China included Le Yucheng, Vice Foreign Minister, Qian Hongshan, Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, Zheng Fuzhi, Vice Minister of Education, Cui Li, Vice-President of the GNFCC SCO, Xia Gengsheng, Deputy Director-General of the National Administration for Rural Revitalization, vice-presidents and members of the Secretariat of the ACWF, and representatives of various departments, including the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee. International guests included diplomats from SCO countries, Zambia, Lebanon, Guyana and various international organizations.
Photos supplied by Yang Rui, Fan Wenjun and Zhang Jiamin
(Women of China English Monthly August 2021 issue)
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