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2nd Int'l Women’s Uni Presidents’ Forum Kicks off in Beijing



To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Fourth World Conference on Women, organizers held the Second International Women’s University Presidents’ Forum in Beijing on October 13.
 
China Women’s University (CWU), the Women's Education Professional Committee of the Chinese Women’s Research Society (CWRS), and the China Women’s Universities Consortium(CWUC) co-sponsored the event. Focused on “Women’s Higher Education and Gender Equality: Women’s University Development Strategies,” the forum aimed to promote women’s causes and higher education development.
 
Zhao Hongju, deputy director-general of the International Liaison Department of the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF); Fang Jun, deputy director of the International Cooperation and Exchanges Department of the Ministry of Education; and, CWU president Liu Liqun attended the forum and delivered speeches. Attendees also included more than 40 presidents from women’s universities and institutes from the U.S., Republic of Korea, Japan, Italy andChina.

On behalf of CWU, Liu said, “this is another meeting with great historical value and practical significance, after the first session in 2009 and the foundation of the CWUC. Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the UN summit on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. Xi said that the pursuit of gender equality is “a great cause” and “a review of history shows that without women's liberation and progress, the liberation and progress of mankind would be unattainable." Women’s higher education, as represented at the event, is the important basis of women’s progress and a great cause, Liu added.

In the process of deepening globalization, the levels of women’s development, rights, opportunities, and resource allocation across the world are still unequal in different regions and different countries. As the bases for exploring women’s education, women’s higher institutes should actively respond to the practical problems and main concerns existing in women’s development, explore advanced education concepts, implement high-quality teaching and research, help women to obtain knowledge and skills, and foster female talents adapting to globalization. Facing the complex situation and challenges are the common missions and responsibilities. They should be used to study how to set goals, grasp the proper direction, and serve the development of women themselves in the social economy, Liu said.

Liu outlined that the meeting would focus on women’s development and gender equality, the challenges and development strategies that women’s institutes are faced with, and fostering cooperation and exchange. They have shouldered great responsibilities and have made it a mission to illustrate teaching achievements, and explore the effective mechanisms for the sustainable development of women's higher education. She hoped that the participators could join hands to promote the development of women’s education around the world.

On behalf of the ACWF, Zhao pointed out that women’s causes have made gratifying progress over the past 20 years. Under the guidance of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China has adhered to gender equality as a national policy and has made remarkable achievements in promoting gender equality and women’s development. Women's higher education institutes are indispensable and irreplaceable parts in the education system. They are also places to create, spread, guide and develop advanced gender culture, and to promote and deliver advanced gender concepts. Their development strategies and levels will directly impact the development of higher education worldwide. How to complete the missions of history? How to find the road to innovation? How to adapt to globalization? How to develop women into modern talents? These are all urgent problems to be solved. The forum provides a platform to discuss such topics, Zhao said.

Zhao hoped that presidents could strengthen their cooperation and exchanges, join hands to promote equality, development and peace, and to build a bright future for women’s higher education.

With the reduction in the number of women’s institutes in western countries, Fang affirmed the significance of the meeting. He said that it is important for women’s higher institutes to discuss their positions, development strategies, and promote international cooperation and exchange. He said that with the rapid development of women’s higher education, gender equality awareness has became more and more important. Attendees should seize the opportunity to strength international cooperation, promote the sharing of education resources, and constantly promote the international process of women’s higher education.

During the keynote speech, Zhang Lixi, deputy director of the Chinese Women's Research Society, delivered a speech titled “Young Women’s Leadership Training: Common Mission”. She shared China’s experience in developing women’s leadership. As a professor of women’s higher education, she gave several suggestions on promoting gender equality and cultivating women’s leadership opportunities. She suggested to involve gender equality courses and women’s leadership cultivation into all levels of the education system, to promote studies on women’s leadership with their advantages, and to create a healthy environment for women’s leadership development.

Hashimoto Hiroko, former president of Jumonji University, reviewed outstanding achievements in several key areas of gender equality around the world since 1995. Liu Bohong, researcher from Women’s Studies Institute of China, delivered a speech on “Gender Equality and Education: Progress and Challenges.” Combining China’s state of affairs, she illustrated details on gender equality, education, global targets, and new targets for sustainable development. Liu also introduced some relevant details of the 17 sustainable development targets which were put forward at the UN Summit.

Drawing on the theme of “Opportunities and Challenges of International Women’s Higher Education Since 1995”, Carma Elliot, Minister of Culture and Education of the British Embassy and British Council China Director, and Shandong Women’s University President Fan Suhua shared their opinions on sustainable development, opportunities and challenges, and developing the paths towards gender equality.

Based on the theme of “Characteristics and Strategic Development of Women’s Higher Education”, Suzan Harkness, vice-president of  Stephens College, the US.; Paola Bernadi, president of Women’s College in University of Pavia, Italy; and, Hunan Women’s University president Yang Yinglan discussed the paths of characteristics development and transformation. They agreed to establish women’s strategic leadership groups, to carry out women’s special skills training courses, and to cooperate and innovate.

The presidents and experts agreed that only by strengthening cooperation, exchanges, and by developing good characteristics, can the voice of women’s higher institutes be heard all around the world.

At the closing ceremony, Liu Liqun pointed out that women’s higher education institutes shoulder special missions and have unique values and vitality. During the critical period in which opportunities and challenges coexist, attendees should take on responsibilities and missions and make a difference. The conference has identified the goals and direction of development, said Liu. Attendees should give priority to education quality and unswervingly take the road of development, combine universal laws with special advantages and implement the characteristics of a development strategy. They should also strengthen cooperation and exchanges and draw up an international communication strategy. She hoped that international women’s institutes could firmly commit to the value of their existence and developing direction, adhere to the characteristics of development, and jointly make contributions to women's higher education.

The following day, the presidents were scheduled to attend a roundtable meeting on the theme of “Problems and Countermeasures in the Cooperation and Exchanges of International Women’s Universities.” There, they would further explore problems existing in schools’ development and exchanges, and seek ways to solve them.

During the meeting, the participants watched a chorus performance given by the CWU's Red Sail Choir.
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