To celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Norway, the Norwegian Consulate General in Guangzhou with its partner Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) organized a seminar on gender equality and women’s position in the labour market.
The “Women Leadership Forum – Innovation and Empowerment” gathered a passionate and dynamic audience, with representatives from big multinational companies, the manufacturing sector, UN Women, NGOs, academia and local media.
Women are an indispensable part of the Chinese labour force, contributing strongly to the Chinese manufacturing sector, which is particularly important in Southern China.
However, women still suffer from discrimination in the workplace, and their promotion opportunities are still scarce compared to men. BSR, through their HER Leadership program, aims to empower women in the manufacturing sector by offering them training and peer networks, in order to enable them to advance in their careers.
Several speakers pointed out that a great obstacle to women’s empowerment in the labour market is the fact that women tend to prioritize family over work, and male leaders tend to focus on training male staff to prepare them for future leadership positions. Also, to improve women’s status in the labour market and in society as a whole, it is necessary to increase female participation in politics, to ensure promotion of policies aimed at empowering women and protecting their rights. There is a need for change both in attitudes and policy to overcome the barriers and empower women.
All the way from Norway came Ms. Laila Bokhari, a well-known Norwegian-Pakistani scholar on security issues, who is now also a factory owner in Pakistan. She told a fascinated audience about the Norwegian gender revolution, where women over the past 50 years have gone from being homemakers to wage-earners, and how this has contributed to accelerate Norwegian economic growth. Research points clearly to the conclusion that increasing women’s economic participation makes a country’s economy more competitive.
Ms. Julie Broussard, head of UN Women’s China programme, emphasized the need to engage men in the empowerment of women in the labour market and in society at large. The empowerment of women requires targeted and concerted efforts from both the public and private sector to remove existing impediments and obstacles.
The debate at the seminar was fruitful, and continued at a reception at the Consul General’s Residence. The passion and engagement created by this event is highly stimulating.
“We look forward to continuing work with BSR on the empowerment of women,” commented Consul General Espen Rikter-Svendsen.
Source: Embassy of Norway in China