Youth Leaders from China sharing their innovative approaches on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment


Author: Zhao Wenting

On July 10th, 2020, young leaders from China together with representatives from UN Women, research institutions, media and private sector companies attended “Promoting Gender Equality through Social Innovations” online dialogue co-organized by UN Women China and Tencent, one of China’s leading tech companies.

The event falls under the UN China-Tencent joint initiative “SDGs Youth Dialogue on the Future”, that aims to call for youth to propose ideas on combating gender inequalities in daily life, especially in the context of COVID-19, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment though innovative approaches to create meaningful change.

Youth leaders with guest speakers during the online Youth Dialogue. Photo: UN Women
Youth leaders with guest speakers during the online Youth Dialogue. Photo: UN Women

Throughout the 70-minutes online dialogue, four youth leaders with diverse backgrounds: Liao Jingyi, Liu Chenghao, Cherie Wang, and Zhang Shunjie were invited to present project concepts targeting critical gender issues. These ranged from sexual harassment awareness campaigns for students and workplace newcomers, to accelerating the use of gender statistics in gender-related policies; and from youth leadership for harmonious relationships to using software applications to improve campus security for female students.

In total, 1230 proposals were submitted ahead of the dialogue, demonstrating the depth of engagement on these issues from China’s youth, among which, four proposals were selected as the most innovative, gender-mainstreamed, youth-friendly, and logistically feasible.

Photo of Smriti Aryal, Head of UN Women China delivered opening remarks for the dialogue. Photo: UN Women
Smriti Aryal, Head of UN Women China delivered opening remarks for the dialogue. Photo: UN Women

Ms. Smriti Aryal, Head of UN Women China said during her opening remarks, “For young people, your minds are always open, you are naturally attuned to new ideas, and you are always able to take up the initiative and take actions. But most importantly, you have the courage to tackle new and old challenges, rather than shying away from them, no matter how big or small.”

Mr. Tong Dawei, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador also joined the dialogue together with HeForShe advocate Ms. Guan Yue, gender expert Ms. Bu Wei and Partner of Mckinsey & Company, Ms. Shi Junna who shared their insights and feedback on the shortlisted proposals. “As an actor and father of three children, I enjoy every opportunity to communicate with young people. To realize our goal of generation equality, youth have very important role to play” Tong Dawei said.

Action is already taking place. With some of the proposals already entering an early-stage implementation phase, Liao Jingyi, from Tsinghua university with the SheForShe project has transformed their methodology into Toolkits, consisting of a Board Game, a Mobile Game, and a VR Portal to engage a wider audience. She said, “We believe that values are socially constructed rather than inherent. We hope to unravel this gender knot and shift the future discourse to one with equality and empathy.”

Over 8840 viewers registered to the online dialogue through Tencent Youth platform before the event, and the pageview of the recorded event video reached 1.2 million within one hour after it launched online on August 15th. A broad audience were engaged through different communication channels and given very positive feedback on the event.

2020 is an important year – it marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a time to review and celebrate our progress. “For UN Women, young people have always been change makers who have helped us to find innovative and disruptive solutions. Promoting gender equality starts from influencing the attitudes and behaviors of people, and if we want to create a gender equal future, we need to influence a whole generation of people, from a very early age.” Ms. Aryal said.