International Women’s Day celebrated at the SCO Secretariat
International Women’s Day celebrated at the SCO Secretariat

Delicate rose buds, classical melodies, dancing and songs, the mysterious and unequalled Beijing Opera, works by famous Chinese calligraphers, heartfelt and sincere congratulations and, to crown it all, the long-expected meeting of female friends from the SCO family created the especially warm atmosphere at the SCO Secretariat in Beijing, where the SCO Women's Club was celebrating International Women's Day.

"The day has different names but the same meaning in the SCO countries. It is a day when we celebrate women and their special role and invaluable place in our societies and in changing and improving the world," SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said in his message of greetings. He stressed that "women are active on the political stage in the SCO countries. They are members of parliament, ministers, ambassadors and astronauts. They influence our countries' internal and foreign policies. Women make up 30 percent of the SCO Secretariat's staff. It is even more important that women create a festive atmosphere and a feeling of kindness and warmth everywhere, because they embody peace, love, happiness and hope."

Rashid Alimov warmly congratulated everyone present on International Women's Day and wished them health, happiness, family and success.

The same day, an exhibition on the history of Chinese opera opened at the SCO Secretariat. It comprised 25 paintings of Beijing Opera costumes and makeup by famous Chinese artists Li Hongbing and Wang Zhanxin.

Famous Chinese opera singers sang from Beijing and Kunqu operas. The event participants learned about the distinguishing features of ancient Chinese operatic art and could even try on the roles of Beijing Opera characters.

The audiences showed considerable interest in a documentary about Chinese opera made by Natalia Belokon, who has been studying and popularising Chinese culture for the greater part of her 20-year-long residence in China.

The children of Kazakhstani diplomats performed a Kazakh dance and a traditional Chinese fan dance.

The event was attended by members of the SCO Women's Club, the ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, the spouses of ambassadors and permanent representatives of the SCO member states at the SCO Secretariat, Chinese Foreign Ministry officials, delegates from the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the Chinese business and media communities, culture figures, and the SCO Secretariat staff and spouses of the Secretariat's officials.

Beijing Opera (Peking Opera) is a unique and the most famous form of Chinese opera that combines traditional music, vocal performance, mime, dance, acrobatics, martial arts, bright costumes, massive headdresses and elaborate makeup. In 2010 Beijing Opera was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Kunqu (Kunqu Opera) is one of the oldest extant forms of Chinese opera. It combines a soft yet clear vocal performance with beautiful and delicate melodies.