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Beijing Conference for Women

Beijing Conference for Women
Host NGOs contribute proposals on jobs and training

By Ashali Varma

Beijing China: China is generally pleased with the way in which the NGO Forum is achieving momentum, according to Huang Qizao–the country’s top official entrusted with coordinating the event in Huairou–and Chinese nongovernmental participants have already offered new recommendations to their official delegation at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing concerning more empowerment, training and jobs for rural women.

“There has never been such a big gathering of NGOs before,” she said in an interview with The Earth Times in Huairou yesterday. “We have 30,000 participants, 25,000 from around the world and 5,000 from China.”

Huang. who runs China’s biggest NGO which is supported by the government and serves as its emissary for advancing the status of Chinese women–said that, for the most part, the Forum has run smoothly with 2,000 workshops conducted as scheduled.

“The Chinese women have been very active in the areas of promoting peace, development and equality,” she said.

Huang is also vice president of the All- China Women’s Federation and a key player in the China Organizing Committee for the Beijing Conference. She is widely considered as one of the most powerful women leaders in China, along with Chen Muhua, president of the Fourth World Conference on Women, and Peng Peiyun, a State Councilor and head of the State Commission on Family Planning.

Huang said: “The Chinese NGOs have 20 recommendations for their delegation concerning the empowerment of rural women by giving them training, market information, improving communications in rural areas and getting more funds for their needs. One action already taken by the Chinese government is a program targeted toward the development of women by the year 2000.”

About the completion of the Beijing Platform for Action, Huang felt confident that it would be finalized before the end of the Conference, despite the brackets and recommendations Huang said, “I was at Nairobi and we worked till 4 AM on the last night to get the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies completed.”

On the question of interaction between Chinese and foreign NGOs, Huang felt that the Chinese had gained a lot of experience at the workshops on learning how to use information and how to get more resources for their programs.

“My Chinese sisters have also told me that the NGOs from overseas were surprised when they came to Beijing and saw the extent of progress made by the Chinese women,” Huang said. “They did not know that over 10 million Chinese women have been employed in the last 10 years,”

She spoke about the fact that 60 women from Tibet were present at the Forum and that there were teachers, doctors, farmers and writers among them and they had come here to tell the world about how their lives have changed for the better. Huang felt that though much has been gained in building partnerships and understanding. There is still much to be learnt from other cultures.

“The Forum’s theme is look at the world through women’s eyes, and I think it can also be said that now women look at Beijing through their own eyes,” said Huang. “My wish would be for the Forum to be a great success and to improve the situation for women all over the world. Women’s issues are social issues and though there has been much progress, with continuing effort and partnerships between governments, I think the status of women can be advanced.”