Full Text: Equality, Development and Sharing: Progress of Women's Cause in 70 Years Since New China's Founding

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Thursday published a white paper titled "Equality, Development and Sharing: Progress of Women's Cause in 70 Years Since New China's Founding."

China SCIOUpdated: September 20, 2019

II. The Legal System for Protection of Women Rights Constantly Improved

Women's rights belong to the realm of basic human rights. In China, the protection of women's rights has been included in laws and regulations, manifesting itself as a state will and a norm of intrinsic social behaviors. Since the founding of the New China, a long list of laws and regulations have been drafted and enacted with the initiative of the CPC to improve the status of women. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, China has constantly cemented the legal assurance for gender equality. The protection of women's rights is secured through scientific legislation, strict law enforcement, fair administration of justice and law-abiding public. In the course of building a socialist country, government and society ruled by laws, assurance of women rights is continuously strengthened.

The legal system for women rights protection has been subject to constant improvement. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China, as the fundamental law of the country, has maintained the principle of gender equality. It was stipulated in the first version of the Constitution issued in 1954 that "women in the People's Republic of China enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, political, economic, cultural and social, and family life," and this principle remains unchanged in all subsequent revisions to the Constitution. In 2004, "the state values and safeguards human rights" was included in the constitutional amendment, thus providing a foundation of human rights protection for women. In 1950, the Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China, the first law enacted in New China, legalized a marriage system characterized by free marriage, monogamy, and equal rights between men and women. In the past 40 years of reform and opening up, as the democratic and legal governance of socialism with Chinese characteristics proceeded, a series of laws and regulations mandating gender equality have been drafted and revised, including Election Law of the People's Republic of China for the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses at All Levels, Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on Maternal and Infant Health Care, Labor Law of the People's Republic of China, Employment Promotion Law of the People's Republic of China, Labor Contract Law of the People's Republic of China, Law of the People's Republic of China on Rural Land Contracting, and Villagers Committee Organization Law of the People's Republic of China. Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women that came into force in 1992 was the first fundamental law in China designed specifically for realizing gender equality and protecting rights and interests of women. It sets forth in details the legal rights and interests of women in politics, culture, education, property, personal affairs, marriage and family. An amendment to Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women in 2005 officially established the legal status of gender equality as a fundamental national policy, and revised "labor rights and interests" to "labor and social security rights and interests". New breakthroughs have been made in the legislation for the protection of women's rights since the 18th CPC National Congress. Anti-domestic Violence Law of the People's Republic of China enacted in 2015 created four new systems – domestic violence warning, compulsory reporting, personal safety protection order, and emergent protection. In the same year, in the Criminal Law Amendment (IX), the act of "whoring with immature girls" was included in the scope of rape and not regarded as a separate and less serious offense any more, thus providing further protection for personal rights of young girls. The past 70 years have witnessed a constantly improved legal system for the protection of women rights and interests in China. Built on the Constitution and with the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women at the core, this system now covers over 100 separate laws and regulations.

Legal practices for the protection of women's rights and interests have been significantly promoted. With a mechanism for cooperation between different women's rights protection agencies in place, various crimes and offenses against women, including rape, abduction, trafficking and domestic violence, are investigated and punished severely. Starting in 1997, the Standing Committee of the NPC has instituted a number of specific law enforcement inspections in order to facilitate effective implementation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women. Tribunals for safeguarding women's rights (collegiate panels) are generally set up in local courts in order to adhere to the gender equality principle when handling cases involving women rights, protect the legal rights of women and ensure proper administration of justice. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the concepts of gender equality and fairness have been comprehensively practiced in all domains of national governance. Family trial rules and mechanisms have been reformed to fully respect humanity and provide further judicial assurance for women rights. The scope of assurance of women rights is continuously expanding in terms of cyber security legislation, reinforced registration inspection, administrative law enforcement, criminal execution, and public law service. In addition, legal aid and judicial aid systems are being gradually improved. In 2018, a total of 361,000 women obtained legal aid.

The awareness of women rights protection by means of legal governance is increasing. Knowledge of law, and the spirit and culture of legal governance related to women rights protection have been included in public legal education plans. From the "first five-year" public legal education plan initiated in 1986 to the "seventh five-year" public legal education plan launched in 2016, boosting the legal governance awareness and knowledge among women and enhancing their abilities to engage in legal governance practice have remained as key tasks. The tasks of public legal education among women have also been combined with the efforts in promoting core socialist values and maintaining women rights. The current activities of public legal education are a mix of regular education programs and specific ones like those carried out annually on the International Women's Day on March 8. These activities make use of both traditional media and new media, and are designed in such a way to stimulate women's enthusiasm. With a great number of themed education events at institutions, villages, communities, schools, enterprises, and departments, the legal governance ideas built around gender equality have proven quite persuasive and effective. There are also legal governance publicity programs for leaders and cadres on different levels, all intended to cultivate an atmosphere that gives due respect to gender equality in their decision-making and public service and enables full consideration of women's rights and needs in the course of law and policy formulation and implementation. The enhancement of publicity of legal governance among legal enforcement personnel is conducive to strict law enforcement, fair administration of justice, and assurance of gender equality in implementation of laws and regulations. Publicity of legal governance among women brings them more legal knowledge and services, naturally guiding them to learn, use, and abide by laws. Publicity of legal governance for families helps family members accept and cherish legal provisions concerning gender equality as well as great morals of respecting the aged and taking good care of children.

The establishment of a new mechanism for evaluating gender equality implications in laws and regulations: According to Legislation Law of the People's Republic of China, a new mechanism for protecting women rights and achieving gender equality should be created. From 2012 to 2018, an evaluation system was set up in 30 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) for evaluation of gender equality implications in laws and regulations. The concept of gender equality has been introduced into drafting, implementation and supervision of laws and policies. As a result, a complete system has been formed, covering preliminary study before establishment, decision implementation, and post-implementation evaluation. This system better represents the will and expectation of women in the new era, and also leads to broader practices of scientific legislation and democratic legislation.

Women and women's organizations are playing an increasingly prominent role in the developing of legal governance, as witnessed by the ever growing proportion of females participating in legislation decision procedures and the greater impact of women on building legal governance. The number of females engaged in decision-making in government institutions is also climbing. Currently, of the new civil servants recruited by central government organs and their direct affiliates, women account for more than a half, and this proportion is higher than 40% in local government organs. Women have become a very important force in the construction of China's legal governance. In particular, women working in judicial bodies have increased dramatically, constituting 32.6% of total court prosecutors in 2017, up 23.6 percentage points over 1982 shortly after China's reform and opening up drive was launched. Of all judges in 2017, 32.7% were female, 21.7 percentage points higher than the level in 1982. Women's federations perform their legal duties strictly. They participate in and supervise drafting and implementing laws and policies on behalf of the women by attending the Standing Committee and special committees of the National People's Congress, and by submitting motions, proposals and suggestions to the respective sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC. In the past five years, women's federations have been active in materialization, enactment, and revision of relevant laws and policies including Anti-domestic Violence Law of the People's Republic of China and measures in support of the Second Child Policy. They raised recommendations on more than 80 national laws and policies as well as over 3000 local regulations and policies. There are also ongoing efforts made by these organizations in creation of a fair women employment interview mechanism and prevention and elimination of gender-based prejudice in employment. In addition, excellent cases of protection of women's legal rights are published regularly to help create a favorable atmosphere for the public to respect and care for women. A public legal education program titled "building a legal governance system in China – women are making their contributions" was launched to provide legal advices and services for women. The legal governance awareness among women has kept increasing. During solicitation of opinions on laws and regulations like General Provisions of Civil Law, there have been active responses from women. The ideas and suggestions they offered have contributed greatly to the construction of the legal governance system in China.

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