On 20 July 2021, Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse hosted a SCO forum on women's education and poverty alleviation.
The forum was organised by the Chinese Women's Federation, the SCO Chinese Committee on Neighbourly Relations, Friendship and Cooperation and the SCO Secretariat.
The forum was attended by First Lady of the People's Republic of China and UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls' and Women's Education Peng Liyuan and Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and Chair of the All-China Women's Federation Shen Yueyue.
The forum was attended in a a hybrid format by SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov, Speaker of the FederalAssembly's Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, Wife of the President of Uzbekistan and Chair of the Trusteeship Council of the Zamin International Public Foundation Ziroat Mirziyoyeva, Deputy Prime Minister of Tajikistan Shirin Anomzoda, Wife of the President of Afghanistan Rula Ghani, Vice President of Iran Masoumeh Ebtekar, Executive Director of UN Women with the rank of UN Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry for Women and Child Development of India Daya Shankar, Chair of the National Commission for Women and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan Lazzat Ramazanova, President of the Women's Congress of Kyrgyzstan Zamira Akbagysheva, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Sania Nishtar, Chair of the Belarusian Women's Union and First Deputy Health Minister of Belarus Yelena Bogdan, and President of the Women's Federation of Mongolia Oyungerel Batnasan.
The participants discussed the current issues of promoting gender equality and sustainable development of society. The main theme of the forum was "Women's Education and Poverty Alleviation." The parties praised China's successful efforts to improve women's education for the alleviation of poverty and expressed a willingness to continue intensifying cooperation in the area of female education and poverty alleviation.
Speaking at the forum, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov said that over the past 20 years the SCO had achieved tangible successes in reaching gender equality and increasing the role of women in socio-economic development and poverty reduction. The SCO member countries have laid the national institutional and legal foundations for gender equality and have adopted national strategies, programmes and action plans on poverty alleviation.
Mr Norov emphasised that the SCO states had ratified and were implementing the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international conventions on human rights as well as on the rights of women and children, and were actively involved in the initiatives of the international community on reaching de facto equality between men and women.
He made a positive remark about the growing participation of women in politics and their increasing representation in elective and government bodies. This graphically demonstrates the commitment of the SCO countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ensure effective gender equality by countering violence against women, increase the number of women involved in the economy and administration and expand their participation in decision-making.
At the same time, Mr Norov emphasized the need for efficient steps to further expand the rights and opportunities of women in developing business activities and playing an active role in the SCO economies.
"At present, the share of women's employment and level of participation in different areas of the economy amounts to a mere 49 percent as compared to 77.3 percent in case of men," he said.
"According to UN statistics, the Human Development Index (HDI) of women in the SCO countries in terms of living standards, literacy, education and longevity amounts to an average of 0.65 percent as compared to 0.70 in ASEAN countries and 0.87 percent in the EU," he added.
In conclusion, the SCO Secretary-General emphasized the importance of conducting a comprehensive analysis of the current trends and determining the potential for multilateral cooperation in improving the status of women and ensuring gender equality in the SCO.
The forum included high-ranking diplomats from the SCO family countries, prominent scientists and representatives of China's business circles. Vice President and First Party Secretary of the All-China Women's Federation and Deputy Chair of China's State Council Committee on Women's and Children's Affairs Huang Xiaowei performed the role of moderator at the forum. Over 200 delegates took part.