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Cooperation to protect women's rights
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A senior Chinese legislator on Tuesday called on Asian countries to work together for equal educational opportunities for women and girls to promote gender equality and development of women's rights.

Women in Asian countries are facing many similar problems during their development, which calls for Asian countries to enhance exchanges for women's comprehensive development, Gu Xiulian, vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body, said at the opening of the fifth Asian Women Parliamentarians' and Ministers' Conference held in Beijing.

"We are inspired by these countries' experiences of promoting educational rights for women and children, and making greater contribution to gender equality and women's all-round development, " said Gu, who is also president of the All-China Women's Federation.

The two-day conference, held under the framework of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD) with the theme of "educational empowerment for women and girls -- critical to social and economic development", was attended by more than 100 women parliamentarians and ministers from 23 Asian, central Asian and Pacific countries and organizations.

China's top legislator Wu Bangguo sent a congratulatory letter to the conference, saying that the conference has played an active role in promoting dialogue and communication among female parliamentarians and ministers, pushing forward women development.

The AFPPD always devotes itself to encouraging member nations to actively join in issues on population and development and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, according to the letter.

China, which is home to 20 percent of the world's female population, has made remarkable progress in improving the situation of women and girls over the past decades in such fields as the eradication of female illiteracy.

The conference focused on the education of girls and women, as education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process.

The last Asian Women Parliamentarians' and Ministers' Conference held in Wellington, New Zealand, discussed issues related to gender-responsive governance and women's participation in decision making processes.

(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2007)

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