China-Africa Cooperation -- Women's Forum 2009 kicks off in Cairo

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The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Women's Forum 2009, which was attended by a Chinese women delegation and 110 representatives from 29 African countries, kicks off Tuesday.

"Women have a special role in consolidating China-Africa cooperation, especially under the financial crisis, which, in spite of signs of recovery, is still prevailing," said a written statement by Suzanne Mubarak, Egypt's first lady and President of the National Council for Women.

The statement was read by Farkhonda Hassan, secretary general of the council, at the opening ceremony.

Stressing women's importance in development, social equality, anti-poverty and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations, the first lady called on women around the world to shoulder these responsibilities and called on the participants of the forum to draw a framework to boost multilevel cooperation between the two continents.

"African women have made great achievements in recent years, there was the first woman president, the first deputy secretary general of UN, the first women Nobel Prize laureate and the much- awarded Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak," said Chen Zhili, President of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) and Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress.

Highlighting the latest development of women's cause in China and African continent, Chen made five fresh proposals to strengthen China-Africa women's ties.

"China's universities will enroll more African women students, of whom a larger portion will get the scholarship," Chen said, adding that more than 30 percent of African women students would be sponsored by Chinese government in the coming three years, compared with 26.54 percent now.

Moreover, China will encourage more dialogues among women leaders, in a bid to share their experience in gender equality and development.

The communication between the two sides should be carried out in multi-levels, which involves women lawmakers, teachers, scientists and businesswomen, as well as others, Chen said.

In order to support women and children's development in Africa, China will provide more aid for African women charities and organizations and establish more training centers to facilitate the communication and cooperation.

Finally, Chen called on both sides to improve women's cooperation mechanism in the framework of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and raise the gender awareness among respective governments and civil societies, from which women will benefit a lot.

The forum was also addressed by Ida Odinga, spouse of the Kenya prime minister and Annette M. Kawa, vice-minister of Gender & Development, who read a statement by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman head of state in Africa.

"We should learn food production and storage technology from China, especially how to cope with draught," Ida Odinga told Xinhua on the sidelines of the forum.

"We welcome the education exchanges, and we'd like to send more Kenya student to China to receive the training," she added. The two-day forum, which was co-organized by ACWF and its Egyptian counterpart, is aimed at consolidating the traditional friendship among Chinese and African women with panel discussions on gender equality and women's development.

As a follow-up event of the "Beijing Declaration of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation," a joint communique is expected at the end of the forum, which will be submitted to the 4th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation scheduled for Nov. 6-9 in Egypt.

Earlier in the morning, Chen Zhili was received by Suzanne Mubarak at the presidential palace.


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