Premier Zhu Rongji called upon governments at all levels Tuesday to safeguard legitimate rights for women and children and clear obstacles that impair women and children from advancing in China.
The premier asked to further improve education for women and children, enhance women's participation in politics and social affairs and promote women's and children's work in the western region.
Zhu made the remarks Tuesday in Beijing at a National Work Conference on Women and Children.
The Party and the central government have been attaching great importance to the role of women in economic and social development and regard the improvement of women's and children's status as a significant component of Chinese revolution and construction, the premier said.
Zhu recalled that great achievements have been made in the past decade in the improvement of women's and children's status in China.
More women enjoy better living, education and health services and have more say in political, economic, social and cultural affairs.
But problems still exist, the premier warned. He said local governments must provide sufficient budgetary support for the development of women and children.
Also Tuesday, an ambitious 10-year national project was formally launched, promising a wealthier, healthier and better-educated life by year 2010 for its large population of women and children.
The project is designed to fight against gender discrimination in employment, which is surging now with the development of the country's economic reform that resulted in many laid-off women workers.
While the employment rate of women among the country's total work force should remain above 40 percent in this decade, women employees also should enjoy better work conditions with special gender-generated welfare items such as birth insurance, said Wu Yi, director of the Chinese State Council's Work Committee on Women and Children.
Of China's total labor force, 46.5 percent were women last year, fairly close to the estimated average level of developed countries.
In addition, the central government will push harder for women's wider participation in politics, enabling them to have a louder voice of their own.
Related statistics indicate that in 2000, 22 percent of the members of the country's National People's Congress and 8 percent of those at decisive positions in the Chinese Government were women.
By 2010, all girls of proper age should be covered by the country's compulsory primary-school education, and 75 percent should have the opportunity to attend high schools. Also, the illiteracy rate among adult women should be reduced from the 22 percent in 1999 to 15 percent.
(People’s Daily 10/10/2001)