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The Other Half of the Sky
Special> The Other Half of the Sky
UPDATED: November 10, 2008 NO. 45 NOV. 13
Rights and Representation
Congress aims to further the role of women in Chinese society

LEADING WOMEN: Delegates to the 10th National Women's Congress vote to elect the 10th ACWF Executive Committee on October 30. A total of 255 delegates were elected as members of the committee

On October 28, the 10th National Women's Congress kicked off at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. A total of 1,280 elected delegates and 169 specially invited delegates attended the congress. Each of China's 56 ethnic minorities was represented by at least one delegate at the event. The National Women's Congress is held once every five years.

"The All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) now plays a much bigger role than 30 years ago," said Yu Caixia, a delegate to the congress from the Central Committee of China Zhi Gong Dang. "Thirty years ago, ACWF just dealt with trivial things from individual families. Now it has developed into part of the mainstream."

The opening ceremony of the congress heard a work report delivered by Vice Chairwoman of ACWF, Huang Qingyi, who listed the federation's achievements over the past five years.

According to the work report, China has about 27,000 women and children's rights watchdogs. A total of 540,000 parenting schools and education consulting agencies have been established around China to spread modern and scientific parenting knowledge. The ACWF has provided about 120 million training opportunities to career women or the unemployed.

Six regional women's career development cooperation mechanisms were set up in areas with huge demand for labor, such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and the Bohai Sea Rim. In the past five years, the federation raised funds worth 1.223 billion yuan ($180 million) for national projects that aided women and children in poverty.

Statistics show there are more than 833,000 women's federations in China, with more than 76,000 staff in charge of women's affairs. Currently, there are nearly 700,000 women working in various circles who have been publicly designated as role models in China. The ACWF has established friendships with 697 women and children's groups in 164 countries and regions.

Currently, women account for 45.4 percent of China's total employed population. In terms of politics, Huang said Chinese women are playing a larger role, occupying 39 percent of official roles. Of the Communist Party of China members, 20.4 percent are female. Female delegates comprise 21.33 percent of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, up 1.09 percentage points from the previous congress five years ago. Women also make up 17.7 percent of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body, up 1 percent.

After the opening ceremony, delegates discussed the work report in small groups and raised suggestions for further developing the role of women in modern China. Delegates at the event were from every walk of life. The youngest was Yang Meng, a village head from south China's Yunnan Province who is just 20 years old.

The delegates all agreed that China's 30-year-old reform and opening-up policy has benefited women.

The five-day congress also heard and discussed a work report by the Ninth Executive Committee of the ACWF, adopted amendments to the federation's constitution, and elected the 10th ACWF Executive Committee.

Newly elected Chairwoman of the ACWF Chen Zhili said at the closing ceremony of the congress that promoting women's rights is a long road. She encouraged more people to become involved in it.

"We should pay more attention to women's rights and interests and speak on their behalf," Chen said. "We should make breakthroughs in tackling practical difficulties that women urgently need to resolve."

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