Forum Highlights Women's Employment and Entrepreneurship
To support China's Belt and Road Initiative, which is intended to revive the historical trade routes that span Asia, Africa and Europe, the First Women's Forum of Countries Along the Silk Road was held on September 19, 2016, in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The forum, with the theme "opportunities and challenges in promoting women's employment and entrepreneurship," was part of the fifth China-Eurasia Expo, held September 20-25 in Urumqi. Xinjiang Women's Federation organized the forum, which had the aim of facilitating exchanges and cooperation among women and women's organizations in countries along the Silk Road economic belt.作为第五届中国—亚欧博览会论坛活动之一, 主题为“妇女创业就业的机遇与挑战”的首届丝绸之路沿线国家妇女论坛于9 月19日在新疆乌鲁木齐举行。此次论坛旨在推进丝绸之路经济带沿线国家妇女组织及妇女间的交流交往、合作发展、互助共赢。
During the forum, 26 women politicians, officials, entrepreneurs and scholars gave speeches, during which they shared the experiences of women during their participation in economic and social development in their respective countries. The participants also pointed out new problems in promoting women's entrepreneurship and employment, and they discussed solutions to those problems.
The three main topics of the forum were Internet-plus women's development, women's leadership and economic benefits and women's employment and entrepreneurship.
During the opening ceremony, Jiao Yang, Vice-President and Member of the Secretariat of ACWF, gave a speech. She said the countries along the Silk Road have abundant resources and diverse cultures, and the thriving regional and sub-regional cooperation among those countries have made the region a potential world leader in economic development.
"The Belt and Road Initiative has helped maintain the millennia-old friendship among people along the Silk Road, and it has given a new impetus to the all-round cooperation and exchanges among those people in the new era," Jiao said.
"The global economy has been recovering slowly, and regional and international cooperation has entered a new stage. Countries must rely on women's strength and intelligence, and they should seek new, long-lasting dynamics for economic growth, by encouraging women to play their roles in reforms and innovation," she added.
The forum highlighted women's significant contributions to economic development. "It will help unite women from participating countries, and it will provide a bigger stage for Xinjiang to act as a bridgehead for the development of
regional trade," Jiao said.
She added she hopes countries along the Silk Road will participate in more exchanges and practical cooperation, and that they will support one another and achieve allround development together by establishing better network of cooperation and effective work mechanisms.
"The ACWF will, as always, promote exchanges among women in the countries along the Silk Road, and it will deepen cooperation in various fields. We will support women's federations, at all levels, in doing that," Jiao said.
Women account for 45 percent of the working population in China, and 11 percent of those women are self-employed, Jiao said. "About 25 percent of the entrepreneurs in China are women, and they have founded 30 percent of the micro and small enterprises. Women account for 55 percent of Internet-based business owners (in China)," she added.
By the end of June 2016, ACWF had issued 279 billion yuan (US $43 billion) in small, secured loans to women, and issued 5.38 million individual loans, Jiao noted. "The ACWF has also implemented initiatives that have guided and supported female college graduates in starting businesses. The 8,100 female college graduates' entrepreneurship centers we established employ 20,000 women entrepreneurs as tutors, and the centers have provided 1.25 billion yuan (US $192 million) in loans and funding to 50,000 female college graduates," she said.
To support the development of women's weaving industry, ACWF established 5,000 weaving centers in China, and 1,000 county-level (or above) weaving associations, which have combined to provide jobs to three million women, Jiao said.
Hermine Naghdalyan, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the Women's Republican Council of the Republic of Armenia, told the opening ceremony, "The forum is a platform to discuss our dreams and our attitudes toward women's roles in economic development. It also offers an opportunity for the participants, who come from various countries along the Silk Road, to talk over the prospects of cooperation."
Hou Hanmin, Secretary of the Party Leadership Group and Vice-President of Xinjiang Women's Federation, presided over the forum's opening ceremony. Hasyeti Aili, President of Xinjiang Women's Federation, chaired the forum.
One hundred people, who were representatives of 19 nations along the Silk Road, including France, Iran, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Russia, and ACWF officials, Chinese women entrepreneurs and representatives of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) attended the forum.
Jiao Yang, Vice-President and Member of the Secretariat of ACWF, gives a speech during the opening ceremony全国妇联副主席、书记处书记焦扬在开幕式上致辞