Remarks by Mme. MENG Xiaosi,Head of Chinese Delegation to 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Meeting to Commemorate the International Women's Day
Your Excellency, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
Your Excellency, Mr. Audun Lysbakken, Minister for Gender Equality and Children's Affairs of Norway,
Dear friends and sisters,
Today we gather here to grandly celebrate the International Women's Day. I am greatly honored to be here to express the aspirations of Chinese women for the development of the world women's cause, and forward greetings and best wishes from Chinese women to women of the world!
March 8th has become a day of celebration for women in many countries. For women of all races, colors, classes, ethnicities or religions, whether disabled or not, we share the same name "women". No other moment enables us to better understand our connections and our shared destiny.
The International Women's Day this year is worth particular commemoration. 2010 marks not only the centenary of International Women's Day, but also the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 10th anniversary of the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, as well as the 15th anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women (FWCW) and the 10th anniversary of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These milestones recorded the glorious course of world women's movement, and witnessed marvelous achievements of world women's cause for equality and development. However, as Juliet Mitchell, the British feminist, pointed out, women's liberation may be the longest ever revolution. New realities not only calls on all states to fully deliver their commitments, but also requires us to adopt more vigorous and more effective actions to bring gender equality and women's advancement to a new height. This, perhaps, is the best commemoration of the centenary of the International Women's Day, and warmest greetings to women of the world!
In China, the Women's Day this year is of particular importance. At the arrival of the centenary of the International Women's Day, the Chinese women's movement stands on a new starting point of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the 60 years, the status of Chinese women has undergone "earth-shaking" changes. Hundreds of millions of Chinese women are no longer the oppressed and fettered group of the past, but masters of the country, the society and their own destiny. The reform and opening up and rapid development of China has brought along unprecedented opportunities for progress of women. Through active participation in competition and by meeting challenges in the spirits of self respect, self confidence, self reliance and self development, Chinese women have played positive roles in economic, political, scientific, educational and health affairs, and hold up "half of the sky" of economic and social progress of New China. Decades' experience of advancing women's cause in China shows that equality and development are interdependent and inseparable from each other, and that women's advancement is inseparable from national development, strong political will of the government, as well as active participation and contribution of all citizens. Only when equality and development go hand in hand can we blaze a longer and broader path forward.
Distinguished delegates, dear friends,
15 years ago, the UN 4th World Conference on Women was held in Beijing. It not only enables hundreds of millions of Chinese people and women to look at the world through gender-sensitive lenses, thus greatly push forward the gender quality process in China, but also adds indelible glory to the world women's movement. The Beijing Platform for Action guides our actions. It identified 12 critical areas of concern, and reaffirmed the concepts of women's empowerment and gender mainstreaming. It brought the diversity of women and the concerns of disadvantaged groups onto agenda. In the process of implementing the BPFA and promoting women's rights, we fully realized that the ways to protect and promote human rights and equality vary and should be independently chosen in line with national situations. 15 years' of practice revealed that gender mainstreaming and gender-specific data and indicators, important tools as they are, may not substitute substantial activities for the promotion of gender equality. 15 years' practice indicates that women's issues cover both gender and development and cannot be addressed in isolation. 15 years' practice also indicates that women of different groups have different priorities and needs, and that the voices and needs of women from underdeveloped and developing countries and of marginalized groups must be taken into account and equally respected.
Distinguished delegates, dear friends,
Global gender equality has registered enormous progress with impressive outcomes in the areas of legislation, education of girls and cross-sector cooperation for the elimination of violence against women. However, it is undeniable many challenges and difficulties still remain for achieving full gender equality. Today women account for the majority of the over 1billion people in poverty; each year 536,000 women and girls die of pregnancy or maternity or within 6 weeks after delivery; the global average of women in parliaments stand at 18.7% only; women face vulnerable situation in employment; and gender discriminations in its various forms are still widespread and rampant. It is undeniable that male thinking dominates the core power that moves this world. On trade, financial and budgetary issues, women's voices are extremely weak. Around the decision tables on water, air, energies, which affects our lives, and on war and peace, which determine life or death, women are barely represented… There are still many obstacles on our way forward, but difficulties only ignite our strength and perseverance, and challenges only firm our wills. On the way to gender equality, we will never stop, never give up, and never turn back.
Dear sisters, do you realize that on the International Women's Day each year, our societies seem to turn into "women's friends": successful women are recognized and awarded, the value of women comes to the spotlight; we can have a day off work and men would send us beautiful flowers. Even the most critical media pays more attention to our status and concerns. Men would even ask in jealousy "why isn't there a Men's Day?" But, for every woman, what we aspire is not just one day like this every year, but living in respect and equality each and every moment of our lives.
It brings us joy and delight to witness the growth and increasing impacts of the BPFA, CEDAW and MDGs. But we expect more vigorous actions that transform these lofty objectives into new forces that would change our lives and world, until one day the International Women's Day becomes real history, because then every day is as good as the Women's Day, and then men and women equally share and create everything in this world. And this, is a responsibility shared by everyone of us present here, by you and me.
Lastly I would like to say that men and women share this world while enjoy different splendors. Women and men are never born enemies, but equal partners. Women's advancement not only brings integrity and happiness to women but also better life and joy to all. In this sense, the International Women's Day not only belongs to women but also to all people of the world. Hereby, please allow me to extend, on behalf of Chinese women, our sincerest best wishes to our sisters around the world for a Happy International Women's Day, and also warmly invite all men to share our celebration and happiness!
Thank you all for your attention.