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More 'needs to be done' for equality

[ 2009-02-23 14:15]     字号 [] [] []  
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As one of the women who has reached the highest levels of leadership, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is very familiar with the issues and challenges facing women in the world today.

So it was with little surprise she managed to strike such a chord with her audience at a women leaders' forum in Beijing yesterday with her message that much more had to be done to achieve equality.

"I believe strongly that if women are not full participants in society, the society does not advance the way that it could. And if women are denied their rights, it affects children, families and the entire social structure," she said to more than 20 female academics and leaders in the business, legal, media and non-profit sectors.

"I know, too, that in no society, certainly including my own, are women treated equally yet," said Clinton, 61, on the last day of her three-day visit.

From rural education to equal pay, Clinton heard from participants at the US embassy yesterday of the obstacles Chinese women still face.

Many at the forum had met the former first lady during her previous visit when her husband Bill was US president and provided her with an update on the work they were involved in.

For Chen Mingxia, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who helped set up a network to tackle domestic violence in China, getting gender equality and awareness written into the law was paramount.

"Our vision is to have a beautiful blue sky under which there is no violence toward women," Chen said. "We are working on training the police in this area, and we have over 100 people and more than 60 organizations in our network."

The challenges brought about by the financial crisis also presented opportunities for women in the workplace, said Feng Cui, vice-president of the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs.

"Right now, 20 percent of entrepreneurs in this country are women. With the financial crisis they are facing extremely difficult situations, but we want them to stand up and work hard, not to bend in the face of difficulties ... with solidarity," Feng said.

Wu Qing, a board member of the cultural development center for rural women, also said that the rich-poor divide in China accentuated the gender differences in the country.

In rural areas, parents tended to prefer a boy for their ability to do manual work, while in the city there was a rising preference for girls because of their seemingly closer ties with family, she said.

To tackle the issues, Clinton said the solution lies with women in all levels of society.

"Particularly between women, in the United States and China we have many things in common despite the differences in our lives," she said.

Xie Lihua, editor of the Rural Women magazine and secretary-general of the development center for rural women in Beijing, said: "Hillary knew more about our culture and the development of women's rights this time. As she said, as long as every woman stands up and tells the truth, we can get equal rights and opportunities."

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

More 'needs to be done' for equality

About the broadcaster:

More 'needs to be done' for equalityBernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.