Chapter VIII

Active Participation in
International Women's Activities

China recognizes and respects the principle of sexual equality affirmed in the United Nations Charter and appreciates and supports UN endeavors to promote the status of women and realize sexual equality. China has taken an active part in international women's activities sponsored by the UN. In accordance with its independent foreign policy of peace, China is striving to develop friendly exchanges and cooperation with women from all over the world, while making unremitting efforts to realize the goal of worldwide equality between men and women, women's participation in social development and maintenance of world peace.

Since resuming membership in the UN in October 1971, China has shown great enthusiasm in participating in UN activities related to women.

China has been playing an active role in UN women's organizations. Since 1974, China has been elected five times as a member state in the UN Commission on the Status of Women. There, Chinese representatives have expounded Chinese women's stand on world peace, participation in development and promotion of sexual equality, exchanged experience and information on promoting women's conditions and giving full play to the role of women with their counterparts from other countries. This has helped to enhance mutual understanding and develop friendly cooperation. Since 1982, Chinese experts have been elected four times in succession as representatives on the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and participated in evaluating the reports submitted by governments and made strenuous efforts to eliminate discrimination against women. From 1985 to 1988, China was elected a member of the board of directors of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, where it made positive contributions to women's research and training.

China was one of the first signatories to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and has submitted timely reports on its implementation in China as required. China took part in formulating and examining the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women to the Year 2000, and has laid down statutes and adopted concrete policies in accordance with China's reality so that the Nairobi Strategies may be realized. China has consistently carried out the principle that men and women enjoy equal pay for equal work. In 1990, it formally ratified the Convention Concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value released by the International Labor Organization.

China supported and engaged in activities for International Women's Year in 1975 and the UN Decade for Women, from 1975 to 1985. The Chinese government sent delegations to the world conferences on women held in Mexico City in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980 and Nairobi in 1985, and also to the five global preliminary meetings and two regional preparatory meetings. At these events, Chinese representatives gave full support to exertions for the United Nations Decade for Women and expounded China's stand and viewpoints on some major international problems and strategies for the advancement of conditions for women, thus making positive contributions to the success of these conferences. At the same time, Chinese women's organizations sent members to take part in Non-Governmental Organization Forum held during the three conferences. China attended 17 UN-sponsored training classes and seminars aimed at realizing the goals of the UN Decade for Women. In the course of these efforts, China exchanged observations and improved its relations with other countries.

Chinese women have made vigorous efforts to develop links with women organizations and individuals around the globe. To date, the All-China Women's Federation has established ties with nearly 480 governmental and non-governmental women's and children's organizations in over 130 countries and regions and received more than 10,000 visitors in recent years, including first ladies, women ministers, members of parliament, entrepreneurs, specialists, scholars and leaders and staff members of women's and children's groups. In the past 15 years, China has sent 280 women delegations abroad. Indeed, Chinese women have friends all over the world.

China believes that although different countries have different histories and their realities and level of economic development vary, they face some common tasks, similar situation and difficulties with regard to women. China is ready to establish relations with women of all states to learn from each other so as to jointly improve the situation for women. In recent years, Chinese women's organizations have jointly sponsored seminars with their counterparts in the United States, Russia, Japan and other countries to study and exchange views on issues that confront women worldwide.

China has taken an active part in international cooperative projects concerning women. At the request of UNESCO, the Asia-Pacific Development Center and United Nations University, China has undertaken research projects on Chinese women and submitted many reports which have all been well received. Over the past decade, the All-China Women's Federation has cooperated with the United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Women's Development Fund, United Nations University, Canadian International Development Agency and other governmental and non-governmental organizations in over 700 projects in 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The schemes include such items as eliminating illiteracy among rural women and providing them with practical technical training, offering vocational training for job-seeking young urban women, training kindergarten teachers, and promoting women's and children's health care and family education. Over 300,000 women have taken part in these programs and the results have been outstanding. The Assistance for Youth Employment Project has been awarded a special prize by the United Nations Women's Development Fund, and the All-China Women's Federation has been highly commended as an ideal partner for international cooperation.

Support has flowed from China for efforts by developing countries to foster women's participation in economic development. Since 1980, China has provided 101 batches of material assistance to women's and children's organizations in 50 countries.The provisions included sewing and embroidery machines, cultural and sports facilities, and clothes and toys. They have helped vocational training for unemployed urban young women and promoted women's work. To meet the needs of these countries, China has in recent years dispatched technical groups specializing in straw, flax and corn straw weaving and embroidery to Mozambique, Mexico, Mauritius, Uganda and Ecuador to help raise the production skills of local women. These contributions have received high praise from the local governments and people.

China adheres to the United Nations theme of equality, development and peace when taking part in international bilateral and multilateral women's activities.

In upholding the principle of equality between men and women, China believes this concept concerns not only the interests of women but also the full employment of the wisdom of humanity and total utilization of social productive forces. Equality is a prerequisite for women's participation in social development. In March 1985, at the third preliminary session on reviewing the achievements of the UN Decade for Women, the Chinese delegate pointed out, "Equality between men and women has been the goal of the women's movement for a long time. The United Nations Decade for Women has scored marked progress in legislative equality, but this is not enough.... We believe that strategically we must stress that efforts must be made at the international, regional and national levels to work out active plans in order to reach a genuine equality; every governmental and non-governmental organization should provide legal services for women and make it possible for them to adopt legal weapons to protect their legitimate rights." At present, political, economic, social, family and racial discrimination against women continue to exist in some countries to varying degrees. Hence, a significant narrowing of the gap between law and reality remains an important and arduous task for every government and the international community at large.

China is convinced that the key to achieving sexual equality is to enable women to take part in development as the equals of men. Women provide great momentum for human progress, and without their participation, true progress is not possible. Nowadays, many obstacles still prevent women from fully taking part in social development. In addition to formulating laws and regulations to ensure the right to equal participation, it is necessary to strengthen women's education so that women's talents are developed and their scientific and cultural standards and management skills can be enhanced. For historical reasons and as a result of an unfair and irrational global economic order, most of the developing countries suffer from a low level of economic development and back-wardness in science and technology. This has seriously hindered women's participation in social and economic development, hence their low social status. For this reason, the international economic order should be thoroughly transformed. Bilateral and multilateral economic and technical cooperation should be developed so that women worldwide, and especially those from developing countries, can enjoy the right to participate in social development as men's equals.

China believes that women are a great force in maintaining world peace, and this is closely linked to the future of our planet and the destiny of the mankind, women in particular. Without peace, development and sexual equality are out of the question. However, in today's world, acts which go against the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law still exist. These include such practices as the big bullying the small, the strong domineering over the weak, interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and violating their sovereignty, and armed aggression and occupation of the territory of other states. Local wars and regional conflicts have been incessant. China firmly supports the struggle by women and the entire humanity against external aggression and interference and the efforts to safeguard national independence, promote national economies and women's advancement. China believes that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal. Countries should abide by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. The internal affairs of a state should be solved by its own people, while international matters should be settled through consultation among countries. Over the years, Chinese women have made unremitting efforts to maintain world peace, and to fight against imperialism, old and new colonialism, hegemonism, racism of various forms, fascism and all forms of terrorism.

As the host country of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China will make positive efforts to ensure its success. Since the United Nations accepted the application of the Chinese government and decided to hold the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in September 1995, the Chinese government has attached great importance to its preparatory work. In August 1992, the State Council set up an Organization Committee consisting of leaders from 30 relevant ministries, the Beijing municipal government and mass groups to be fully responsible for the preparation. Chaired by State Councilor Peng Peiyun, the committee stresses that the preparation for the conference should also be used as an opportunity to promote the role of Chinese women in social development and sexual equality. In March 1993, Chinese Premier Li Peng stressed in the Report on Government Work at the First Session of the Eighth National People's Congress, "We should make the Fourth World Conference on Women a success." This is a call to the Chinese people for general mobilization and also a solemn pledge to the international community. At present, the Chinese government is earnestly carrying out its responsibilities as a host country and increasing its contacts and cooperation with UN organizations, governments and relevant non-governmental organizations in the world. It is exerting its utmost efforts to facilitate the convocation of the conference and contribute to the global advancement of women.