President Xi highlights need for gender equality at UN conference

China's President Xi Jinping, center, speaks at the "Global Leader's Meeting on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: A Commitment to Action" on Sept. 27 at United Nations headquarters. Photo: Guan Liming

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the world to step up efforts to improve women's rights at the global women’s summit at the UN General Assembly Sunday.

Xi highlighted the role women played in driving the international social development and pressed for equal access to opportunities and resources for men and women at a special session to mark 20 years since a landmark UN conference on women in Beijing.

The president put forward a four-point proposal on promoting gender equality and women's all-round development worldwide.

"First, we should strive for women's development in tune with social and economic progress," Xi said, pointing to the need for "more well-rounded development strategies to raise their participation and ensure their equal share in social and economic development.

Second, countries should protect women's rights and interests by laws and regulations, said the president.

"We must strengthen women's capacity of taking part in politics and economy, involving women in higher levels of decision making in business and government," Xi said.

Countries must ensure basic medical services and education for women and develop vocational and life-long education for women to help them better adapt to changes in society and the job market, he said.

Third, "We should foster a harmonious and inclusive society, wiping out any types of domestic violence against women and breaking the glass ceiling," Xi said.

Fourth, “We should foster an international environment favorable to women’s development, reducing the development gap in different countries,” he said.

"As the Chinese people pursue a happy life, all Chinese women have the opportunity to get ahead in life and make their dreams come true," he said.

Xi said China will do more to enhance gender equality as its "basic state policy," citing a Chinese proverb that “women hold up half the sky.”

He added that China would help developing countries build 100 health centers and 100 school projects in the next five years, which will see 30,000 women from developing countries take part in China-based training programs and help train 100,000 women workers.

Leaders from over 90 countries spoke at the event co-hosted by Xi and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Holland and South African President Jacob Zuma. Cuban President Raul Castro attended the event for the first time.

Bill Gates’s wife Melinda and Alibaba founder Jack Ma were also present at the meeting.

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