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

IIIWomen's Role in Economic and Social Development Becoming Increasingly Prominent

Women are indispensable builders of the country. China has promulgated laws and regulations such as the labor law, the employment promotion law, the labor contract law and the law on contracting rural land to fully protect women's economic rights and interests, especially the right to equal employment, ensuring equal pay to men and women for equal work and eliminating gender discrimination in employment. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, China has attached more importance to gender equality in employment, offering better and more job opportunities for women. They have become more committed to the socio-economic construction and their role – just like the old saying "women hold up half the sky" – is increasingly prominent.

Women have fully engaged in and been broadly benefited from the fight against poverty. China has paid high attention to poverty reduction and eradication among women. The outline of development-oriented poverty alleviation for China's rural areas and the outline of women's development in China, both planned for 2011-2020, have given priority to alleviating women's poverty level and reducing the poverty-stricken population, ensuring resource supply for women in poverty while assisting and supporting them in poverty-relief projects. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has highlighted women's participation in and benefits from poverty reduction and eradication. In 2018, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council co-issued guidelines on a three-year poverty-relief plan, under which a cervical cancer and breast cancer screening program covers women in all poverty-stricken counties. The government has implemented a number of public welfare and charity programs for impoverished mothers, such as the program of relief for mothers suffering from breast cancer and cervical cancer, the subsidized housing project for impoverished rural single mothers, and the mother health express program, bringing help to sick women, poor single mothers and various other groups of mothers in need. The government carries out a series of poverty alleviation measures, encouraging city households to employ women in the registered poverty-stricken families for housekeeping services. The women's federations also adopt a comprehensive action plan to assist impoverished women in starting businesses, developing skills, reducing healthcare costs and facilitating mutual aid. The federations endeavor to achieve targeted poverty relief through micro credit and development-oriented poverty reduction projects. By the current rural poverty standards in China, rural poverty population has decreased to 16.6 million by the end of 2018 from 98.99 million in 2012, while the poverty rate has fallen to 1.7% from 10.2% in 2012. Women accounted for 50% of those lifted out of poverty.

Rural women's enthusiasm to take part in production is boosted by guaranteeing their equal land rights. China has always guaranteed women's rights by laws and legislations, which has been demonstrated in such practices as land reform, the household responsibility system, the verification, registration and certification of land contract and management rights and the separation of rights to ownership, contract, and management. Since 2014, it has been clearly ruled that women's rights and interests in relation to land must be given expression to in the registration book and land right certificate. Now they have their names written in the certificates and obtained corresponding rights. In 2018, the revised law on contracting rural land stipulates that each household member has equal access to benefits from contracting land and women's rights to contracting and operating land should be guaranteed. In 2016, the Guidelines on Reforming the Rural Collective Property Rights System issued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council clearly stated that rural women's legitimate rights should be effectively protected. In 2018, seven departments including the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, All-China Women's Federation jointly issued guidelines, urging rural communities to correct any village regulations and folk conventions that are in conflict with statutory regulations and the principle of gender equality. Rural women's land rights and economic interests have been effectively protected and they are working for rural revitalization and modernization.

Women workers are motivated to perform better by enhancing labor protection. China attaches great importance to safeguarding female employees' rights through laws and regulations. From the Regulations Concerning the Labor Protection of Female Staff and Workers in 1988 to the Special Rules on the Labor Protection of Female Employees in 2012, protection for women workers have increasingly improved. A growing number of enterprises and companies have given due protection to their female staffers at work, with 71.2% of the enterprises providing labor protections for women workers in 2017, up 35.2 percentage points from 2002. By September 2017, a total of 1.366 million special collective contracts have been signed to protect female employees' rights, benefiting nearly 80 million women workers. Up to 300,000 trade unions in community-level enterprises and public institutions have set up staff-only resting and nursing lounges, serving 18.494 million women. China published the Manual of Guidance on Promoting Workplace Gender Equality to oblige employers nationwide to abide by relevant laws and regulations to ensure female workers' legitimate rights and special interests. Such protection measures and efforts have created conditions for women to partake in socio-economic development. Women workers in various sectors, with a high sense of responsibility and historical mission, are playing an increasingly bigger role in promoting China's economic and social development.

Women account for 40% of the labor force. In the early days after the PRC was founded, women actively engaged in activities of reviving the country's economy and boosting its social development, becoming key elements in the drive to industrialize New China. Thanks to the country's rapid economic and social development since China launched the reform and opening-up drive 40 years ago, women now have increasingly diversified employment options and ampler business opportunities as the number of women workers and entrepreneurs has risen by a big margin. In 2017, there were 340 million women in the labor force, doubling the figure in 1978 (see Chart. 3). The Chinese government has provided small-sum guaranteed loan with financial discount to boost women employment and self-employment. A total of 383.77 billion yuan were allocated between 2009 and 2018, with the central and local governments appropriating 40.86 billion yuan of funds with discount interest rates, benefiting 6.569 million women in employment and self-employment. The 2017 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition sponsored by the All-China Women's Federation attracted 560,000 women.

Chart 3. Number of employed women nationwide (per hundred-million)

Women's job options are greatly expanded. Throughout the process of socialist modernization, women's productivity have been continuously unleashed and their employment options also broadened. In 2010, 46.8% of women worked in the secondary and tertiary sectors, up 24.8 percentage points from 1982. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has prioritized employment while actively promoting gender equality in employment. China published a Notice on further straightening recruitment behaviors to promote women's employment, which explicitly prohibited six types of gender discriminations in job market. Joint enquiry, market supervision and judicial relief are put in place to ensure women can enjoy equal rights in employment. In 2017, there were 15.297 million women technicians in state-owned enterprises and institutions, making up 48.6% of the total technicians, and the figure also represented a 9.5-percentage-point rise from 1982. Over 100,000 women acquired knowledge and skills for e-commerce through the women's federations programs, who in turn helped 15 million women to increase their income. An "internet + women employment" model has taken shape, by which women can gain access to efficient employment services without leaving their homes. Women have made up 55% of the population doing business online .

A large number of women are demonstrating excellent work performance in various sectors. China respects women as the mainstay of the country, giving full play to their talents, expanding employment opportunities for women and improving employment service and occupational training so as to support women to make achievements in building their country. Women's federations at various levels have rewarded a host of women with such titles as National March 8th Red-Banner Pacesetters, March 8th Red-Banner Individual Holders, or March 8th Red Banner Collectives. Trade unions at different levels also rewarded those with titles of the Labor Day Women Model Posts or Labor Day Model Women Workers. Women's capabilities in contributing to economic and social development have been significantly enhanced over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, which has been demonstrated in politics, economy, science and technology, education, culture and health. Tu Youyou, a representative of distinguished women, has made great contributions to the research of Chinese traditional medicine and cross-research of Chinese and Western medicine and she is the first female Chinese scientist to win a Nobel Prize.

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