|Statement by Mme. Song Xiuyan, Head of the Chinese Delegation to 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Vice-Chairperson of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council of China|
I agree with the points made by the keynote speaker and other previous speakers, who have given me lots of inspirations. I would like to add by sharing with you some of China’s practices and experiences.
As mentioned by the previous speakers, education is an important means for enhancing quality of an entire nation and an important factor in promoting gender equality and reducing gender gap. The first decade of the new century has witnessed a great leap forward in China’s education development, as demonstrated by two facts. The first is that the tuition fees, miscellaneous fees and textbook fees have been exempted for 9-year compulsory education, which is now free to all. Moreover boarding fees for rural students in boarding schools are exempted and livelihood subsidies are made available to the boarding students from poor households. The second is that gender gap has been basically eliminated in terms of primary school enrolment, when the enrolment rates for girls and boys have both reached 99.4% in 2009. In secondary, undergraduate and graduate education, girl students account for 48%, 50.47%, 47.04% respectively. It is fair to say that China has made substantial progress in achieving gender balance at all levels of education, and is one of the countries that have made the most remarkable accomplishments in realizing UNESCO’s “Education for All” objectives.
Science and technology are becoming the driving force for both the present and future development. Women are in need of science and technology, and vice versa. Women’s participation in science and technology provides an important means by which they participate in political, economic and social lives as well as realize their own potentials and thereby shape the world’s development and progress. Women account for half of the world’s population. Without their participation in, contribution to and benefiting from science and technology, a full development of science and technology can not be achieved and a sustainable society can not be possible.
At present, there are 140 million women scientists in China, accounting for 40% of the total, and they are making important contributions to the innovation and development of science and technology. The Chinese government sticks to the principle of gender equality in nurturing talents of science and technology, and takes preferential measures to create opportunities and space for the development of women scientists. For instance, in 2010, the China National Natural Science Foundation extended the age limit for women from 35 to 40 when applying for Youth Science Fund, which is 5 years more than that for men. It also decided that women can extent their project duration in case of child bearing. With an aim to protect and support women to devote themselves to science and technology, these measures have raised the percentage of women scientists in acquiring National Natural Science Fund.