2017 Women’s Day Celebration Speech
Beijing Review President Li Yafang
(March 12, 2017)
Your Excellency Madam Dolana Msimang, Ambassador of South Africa to China,
Your Excellency Madam Tania Romualdo, Ambassador of Cabo Verde to China,
Distinguished guests, friends,
Ladies and gentleman,
On this occasion of the 2017 International Women’s Day, we gather here to hold this celebration, together with our friends from Africa. This event is of special significance for promoting cultural exchange between our Chinese and African women. It also shows the respect and recognition of people from all walks of life in both China and Africa for the important role women play in social development.
Women hold up half the sky of human society. China and Africa have always attached great importance to the role of women. Speaking at the Global Women’s Summit held at the UN Headquarters in September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed, "Women are creators of material and spiritual wealth and represent an important force driving social development and progress."
Chinese and African women, though having different values and traditions, are both beautiful, diligent, resilient and kind. These form the foundations for mutual understanding and exchange.
Beauty: The colorful Kente cloth showcases the beauty of African women, while elegant, soft silk portrays the beauty of Chinese women. With exquisite hand-woven textiles, color and design, Kente and silk represent Chinese and African women’s aspiration for and interpretation of "beauty." Many of our distinguished guests present here today are wearing their traditional attire made of Kente and silk. Their beauty resonates this early spring season.
Diligence: More than half of Africa’s gross national product are created by women. They account for 75% of the agricultural labor force in Africa. They are wives and mothers, as well as laborers and producers. We Chinese women are the same. We work hard, take care of our families and make great contributions to the development of our country and society.
Resilience: The famous movie Desert Flower has shown to the world how strong and brave African women are. It is also an inspiration to many Chinese women. The Chinese and African women are pioneers, persistent in pursuing their dreams despite great hardships. We only need to look at Nadine Gordimer, South African winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature; Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female president in Africa; Soong Ching Ling, the first Honorary President of the People’s Republic of China; Deng Yingchao, forerunner of the modern women’s movement in China; Tu Youyou, the first Chinese scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, among many other outstanding women.
Kindness: Being kind to each other is the foundation of friendship. For a long time, Chinese and African women have cultivated close relationships. They support each other and promote each other. Chinese and African women’s mutual friendship benefits first and foremost from their sincerity towards each other. Their solidarity and friendship inject vitality and energy into the China-Africa cooperation.
BEIJING REVIEW is a Chinese international communication agency. Published by BEIJING REVIEW, ChinAfrica is China’s leading monthly magazine targeting an African audience. Launched in January 1988, ChinAfrica is dedicated to promoting China-Africa cultural exchange and cooperation in various fields. ChinAfrica Media and Publishing Ltd. is BEIJING REVIEW’s Africa Branch. It was officially inaugurated in March 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
During the 2015 Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, we published a special issue on the Summit. The launch of the Johannesburg Summit Special Issue was held in Johannesburg on December 3. Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma extended congratulatory messages for the special issue. They also cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the Exhibition on the 15 Years of the FOCAC, which was organized by BEIJING REVIEW in December 2015.
For a long time, we have gained strong support from African embassies in China, and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my most sincere thanks to our distinguished guests.
Finally, although the March 8 International Women’s Day has passed, I still would like to extend my best wishes. Wishing all of you a happy International Women’s Day and a very nice celebration.