China has 55 million illiterate women, announced Zhao Shaohua, vice chairwoman of the All-China Women's Federation, on Tuesday.
"Today, one out of five women in the world is from China," said Zhao. "So we should be fully aware that the development of Chinese women affects the whole of society, and even the whole world."
Official statistics show that in 2004, the illiteracy rate of Chinese young women was 4.2 percent, down 27 percent from 1982. However, Zhao said, China still has 55 million illiterate women. It is a tough task for the country's educational system to tackle.
Since China successfully held the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, women's status in China has seen great improved, Zhao said, but women in rural areas who lead poor lives account for more than 60 percent of the total rural laborers. Besides, women's incomes are lower than men's and the gap is widening, she added.
Zhao made the remarks at the sixth East Asian Women's Forum which opened in Beijing on Tuesday. About 300 representatives from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, and the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao attended the meeting.
(Xinhua News Agency July 19, 2006)