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Women to the Fore at Asia Forum

Women can make a great difference to the economy and the development of society, representatives to the first Women's Forum Asia agreed on Thursday.

The three-day forum, which began Thursday at the Pudong Shangri-la hotel, had the theme of "Growth and sustainability: how women are making a difference." More than 600 representatives took part. It was the first time the Women's Forum, which began in France in 2005, had come to Asia.

"It is very important to introduce the forum into Asia, especially China. Asian women are playing a more important role in social and economic life. The forum aims to encourage women to further devote themselves to the society and economic development with innovation," said Aude Zieseniss de Thuin, initiator and chairwoman. "We hope to not only to build a platform for communication but also to guide and create women leaders for the regions and the world."

The representatives discussed topics including the development of environmentally friendly technology for fast economic growth, challenges due to the increase in the aging population, how women should get involved in economic life and educational development to reduce disparity between men and women.

Euleen Goh, former chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore, said supportive families, equality in education and in the workplace were allowing Asian women to have a better chance than their western counterparts to seek career progression. "In Asia's family structure, parents live with their children, which frees young parents to go out and work," Goh said. The government placed great emphasis on education and equality in education, she added.

Participants to the forum expressed their condolences for victims of the Sichuan Province earthquake and offered donations. Yin Yicui, deputy Party secretary of Shanghai, expressed her gratitude for their concern.

(Shanghai Daily May 16, 2008)

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