Attendees at the event [cri.cn]
The first edition of the Sino-Swiss Women's Forum, which focused on the topic of women in leadership and the opportunities arising from intercultural dialogue, kicked off in Geneva, Switzerland recently.
Jointly launched by the Swiss-Chinese Association and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the forum was held to "promote communication between Chinese and Swiss women, deepen mutual understanding, and enhance mutual friendship in conjunction with the 65th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries," according to Xu Jinghu, ambassador of China in Switzerland, who delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony.
"We would like to encourage women to pursue the aim of fostering mutual cultural knowledge," said Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, Swiss State Secretary and director of the Foreign Economic Affairs Directorate, in her speech. "With this forum, we aspire to enable successful cooperation between Swiss and Chinese women leaders."
In 1979, Swiss women were given the right to stand for election. Currently, four governors of the 26 states in Switzerland are females. More than two decades ago, working women were rarely seen in the country, but now the women's employment rate has surpassed 50 percent, and their career status is consistently improving.
China's gender equality and women's causes have also made outstanding achievements in recent years, with the rapid economic and social development of its society. The government has passed specific rules on the rate of women's participation in decisions and management. Currently, female National People's Congress (NPC) deputies account for about 25 percent of the total, while female Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) members account for about 20 percent.
Women's employment structure has also improved consistently. Women at work account for 45 percent of the total, and female entrepreneurs account for 25 percent.
Women's health levels have also dramatically improved, with an average life expectancy of 77.4 years nationwide.
Furthermore, women receive more years of education, and women and girls from minorities, and those living in remote impoverished regions, enjoy favorable policies.
Chinese women are also more active in international exchanges and cooperation, as there have been more than 50 female ambassadors since the founding of New China in 1949.
Speaking about women's role in promoting cross-cultural exchange, Huang Han, a special guest of the forum and a professor at Jiangsu Provincial Administration Institution, said that affinity is women's peculiar born advantage.
"First in individual lives, women are more perceptive and perform better in human communications," she said. "Also, women are 'softer' during their communications with others. For example, their communications in education, culture, history and literature offer people much enjoyment and have subtle influence."
Yang Jiangyan, one of the launchers of the forum, said they would make full use of the platform to provide support to women from the two nations in commercial communications and cultural exchanges. "After the forum, many enterprises from the two nations will seek opportunities in commerce, symposiums and experience exchange. As a platform, we will help them with these and help them connect with what they need," she said.
About 200 guests, including a delegation of the China Association of Women Entrepreneurs, attended the forum.
(Source: gb.cri.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)