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Voices and Visions
International forum highlights women's health and happiness
 NO. 14 APRIL 6, 2017

Her Village International Forum is an annual program focusing on women's physical and mental health and happiness. The 2017 edition, organized in Beijing by the Sun Media Group and Her Village Academy, saw economists, a Nobel laureate, writers and entrepreneurs discussing women's role in leading innovation in a time of change. Here are some voices from the forum:

Meng Xiaosi, Former Vice President, All-China Women's Federation::

The All-China Women's Federation has been promoting small loans exclusively for women, especially those in rural areas, since 2009, aiming to increase women's social and family status. By September 2016, 15 million women had benefited from this.

Yang Lan, Founder, Sun Media Group::

Of the small and micro company founders in China's Internet industry, 55 percent are women. In the United States, the number is 41 percent. Only 10 percent of Chinese women entrepreneurs can access venture capital, and in the States, it's less than 5 percent.

Some say women are not good at rational thinking. They are more emotional. They probably have advantages in culture, art, education and medical services but not in [science]. It's wrong. Given equal opportunities, women can perform as well as men.

Zhang Xichao, Professor, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University:

My team released a report on Chinese women's mental health and happiness at the forum.

Women in marriage who have kids are happier than those who don't. For women who are divorced, the more kids they have, the unhappier they are.

We focused on full-time housewives. They are the least happy of our researched groups. Except for parenthood, they are unsatisfied with their relationship with their husband and their personal freedom. Therefore, we can say that independence and freedom contribute more to their happiness. We should give more care to full-time housewives.

Mark Gibbs, President, SAP Greater China:

Change is happening not fast enough. In the Fortune 500 companies, only 4 percent of CEOs are women. Women in IT are 25 percent of the workforce. By 2020, half of the workforce will be millennials, and 25 percent will be over 55. Companies will need to consider how to balance that age difference within the workplace.

The biggest thing that makes me think and makes me scared is that I have a 7-year-old daughter. And I'm trying to think what the world will be like by the time she enters the workforce. Will it be a more equal and inclusive society? Will she have an equal chance, like all her male school friends? Is her education sufficient? So, [there are] many things for us to think about.

Zhang Chaoyang, Chairman and CEO,

Innovation for a company is to generate new products, new technologies and new business models which can make the company successful and change people's lifestyle. But what's the essence of innovation for the company? It's not the business model, but the innovation of organization.

How to make a strong team? Select the right talent and give enough incentives. A higher salary or better options can't buy [good] staff. People need a sense of identity and accomplishment.

The leader should create a company culture that respects workers' spirit. To do work worth doing could be more important than payment.

Hao Jingfang, Science Fiction Writer:

Creation is a process of expression. Many people don't think they are creative mainly because they don't treat their true feelings with honesty. They care about other people's thoughts and ignore their own feelings. We need to learn how to express ourselves, for example, by painting, writing, talking or shooting a movie. Let your thoughts come out in the form of real work.

Yu Dan, Professor, Beijing Normal University:

Some of my women friends who are 40-50 have told me they are going back to university. Some said they were going to spend a whole year receiving training, some said they were trying to learn something professional. They are either senior managers in corporations or retirees whose kids have got married. Their reasons are almost the same: They wish to get old elegantly.

One of them told me she didn't want to turn into a granny talking her children's and grandchildren's ears off. That's why she went to study art at the age of 50.

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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