His Building bridges with China-Asean Women's Forum
By Alex How in Nanning, China

Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Masna, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that the First China-Asean Women's Forum will act as an inspiration for cooperation among the women, during her speech at the Conference Hall of the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Nanning, China.

The first two-day inaugural women's forum that was being held on the sidelines of the China-Asean summit yesterday will end today in the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the Federation, the sponsor of the forum.

Princess Masna said in her speech that the Women's Forum served as a friendship bridge in bringing together the various women's institutions and organisations.

HRH added that the forum is an important step towards further enhancing Asean-China women's friendship, which focused on the theme "Strengthening Women's Cooperation, Promoting Common Development".

HRH stated that a strategic partnership based on the solid foundation laid down by Asean and China leaders for intensified future cooperation between the two sides - which would contribute significantly to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world at large - can be formed.

"The forum which has the potential to establish as a mechanism for exchange and cooperation would enable women to share and exchange experiences in areas mutual," said Princess Masna.

"Both sides could collaborate in practical projects and measures to promote women's development, including capacity building."

HRH added that the forum would further promote understanding and cooperation and consolidation of the historic friendship between women.

HRH acknowledged that China's active role in advancing the status of women by holding the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing and the leaders from two sides had recognised and reaffirmed the importance of women and their participation in the development of their respective countries.

"Subsequently, Asean has already made progress in the areas of advancement of women and elimination of violence against women," said Princess Masna.

HRH stated that the regional cooperation and national policies in areas such as education and health have brought about tremendous progress on women's development in the past thirty years.

"The literacy rate for women in Asean has dramatically increased. The status of women's health has improved as shown in a reduction in the infant mortality rate and an increase in the life expectancy rate," said Princess Masna.

"All these are monitored by the Asean Committee on Women (ACW) which falls under the purview of the Asean Standing Committee."

HRH also said that the Women's Forum could play an important role in supporting and mainstreaming women through their participation in the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration of Asean-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity.

"This Plan of Action will aim to accelerate all dimensional cooperation between both sides and would certainly enhance people-to-people contacts," said Princess Masna. - Borneo Bulletin (1st Nov 2006)