BEIJING — Premier Li Keqiang called on authorities to make constant efforts in improving the overall conditions of women and children in the country.
He made the remarks in a speech delivered at the sixth national working conference on women and children on Nov 18. The full text of the speech was released on Nov 20.
In addition to endorsing laws, regulations and guidelines to support the groups, the nation also carried out programs including cancer screening for women and improved nutrition for children in poverty-stricken areas, according to Premier Li.
Health conditions of women and children have improved markedly, with women’s average life expectancy standing at 79.4 years old and the mortality rates for infants and children under five dropping to 8.1 per thousand and 10.7 per thousand respectively, he said.
“Overall, these readings are at the same level as those reported in medium- and high-income countries,” he said.
According to Premier Li, the educational rights of women and children have been protected and women’s rights in fields including politics, the economy, culture and social activities have been effectively safeguarded.
While acknowledging the remarkable achievements made in this regard in recent years, Premier Li stressed women and children’s development faces many challenges and difficulties ahead.
“There are still some backward notions and social conventions, and the development of women and children remains unbalanced between urban and rural areas and among regions,” he said.
He added that resources to protect and serve women and children in poverty-stricken areas are not adequate and cases of infringement of the rights of women and children have occasionally been reported.
In his speech, the Premier urged continued efforts to implement the basic state policy of gender equality and the principle of prioritizing the development of children’s education.
He said women and children’s development should be better coordinated with economic growth and social progress.
Gender discrimination must be eliminated, and equal pay for equal work must be enforced, said the Premier, calling for efforts to provide special work protection to female employees and boost support to them, including training, tax waivers or rebates, and legal and business assistance.
Greater efforts should be made to select or promote female officials, and women should enjoy greater opportunities and capabilities to govern economic and social affairs, Premier Li said.
The Premier also urged greater care for particularly vulnerable groups, including the poor, sick and disabled, elderly women as well as single mothers.
Calling children the “future and hope of a nation,” he said priority should be given to the education of children. Premier Li urged advancing balanced development of compulsory education by investing more heavily in education in central and western regions, border areas, ethnic minority areas and impoverished areas.
Work to expand enrollment of students from poor areas in prestigious universities should be continued, the Premier said, adding efforts should be made to create equal educational opportunities for children from various family backgrounds.
Additionally, he urged improving medical services for children, increasing the number of pediatricians, and addressing shortages of pediatric medications and other medical resources.
More effective measures should be worked out to address birth defects and malnutrition of children, the Premier added.
Special care should be provided to orphans and sick, disabled and homeless children, as well as rural children whose parents have left home to work in cities as migrant workers.
Moreover, Premier Li added that the government will continue to crack down on human trafficking and other crimes that target women and children.