Equality, Development and Sharing: Progress of Women’s Cause in 70 Years Since New China’s Founding
The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China
In the entire course of history, the liberation and progress of women have been indispensable to the liberation and progress of mankind. Since its inception, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been struggling for women’s liberation and gender equality. The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 ushered in a new era for women in China, changing their social status from an oppressed and enslaved group in the past thousands of years to masters of their own fate.
In recent 70 years, women’s cause in China has been closely connected to the general growth of the CPC and the whole nation. Under the leadership of the CPC, the past few generations of women have contributed greatly to social construction, reform, and development. As the Chinese nation is rising and growing richer and stronger, Chinese women's social status has undergone enormous changes.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, there has been a firmer belief in the future of women development based on Chinese socialism among Chinese women. In this background, women are able to exercise their democratic rights, participate in economic and social development, and benefit from the outcomes of reforms and development on an equal and legal basis. As masters of the nation, women now can find the best ways to fulfill themselves while gaining increasing senses of achievement, happiness, and safety, as witnessed by the historic accomplishments they’ve made so far.
This white paper is issued specifically to make the achievements of women’s cause in the past 70 years since New China was founded fully known to the whole world.
I. Women’s Cause Remains High Priority and Is Actively Promoted in China
Boosting the comprehensive development of women and achieving gender equality have been perceived as important components of the socialism system with Chinese characteristics. China has always attached great importance to such development and equality. Among the concrete measures taken so far to accomplish these goals are reinforced CPC guide over women’s work, creation and improvement of women right protection legislations by the National People's Congress, establishment of practical mechanisms in favor of women’s cause by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), setup and improvement of government working systems for implementation of national gender equality policies, and enhancement of the role of the Women’s Federation as a bridge between the CPC, the government and the mass of women. Together these measures provide solid political and systematic assurance for the development of women’s cause.
The CPC has made earnest and persistent efforts in leading and improving the work concerning women in the past 70 years. With women’s cause as an important part of its undertaking, the CPC has been striving towards women’s liberation and gender equality. In the twelve sessions of the National Women’s Congress concluded thus far, guidelines for women movement and work as well as main pertinent tasks were worked out in line with general CPC and government policies for nationwide implementation of relevant plans. With the coming of the new era, the CPC is now leading women’s work more devotedly. “Adhering to the fundamental national policy of gender equality, and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of women and minors” were enshrined in the reports of the 18th and 19th CPC National Congress, and accepted as key concepts and parts of the CPC’s governance and administration plans. The first conference on improving mass organizations organized by the CPC Central Committee in 2015 determined a direction for the work concerning women in the new era by showing how to promote reforms of the Women’s Federation and how to make the organization and work of Women’s Federation more politically responsive, up to date, and geared to the demands of the masses. For the CPC, women’s cause always plays a significant role in Chinese reform, opening-up, and modernization. Full consideration has been given to actual gender differences and special interests of women in legislation, policy-making, planning, and policy implementation. There are also ongoing efforts in improving a legal system for protecting women’s rights and building a firm legal foundation for gender equality and comprehensive development of women. Women development has been incorporated into general national economic and social development plans to facilitate high-level and long-term planning. Such incorporation makes the Chinese women’s cause more reflective of modern trends.
Special Column 1:
Core Elements of the Fundamental National Policy of Gender Equality
Gender equality is a fundamental national policy that is essential and future-oriented from the perspective of appropriate and comprehensive development of women in the general economic, social, and gender context. The core elements of this policy include:
The key role of women in economic and social development needs to be highly valued and brought into full play;
Women should develop simultaneously with economic and social development;
Gender equality in terms of rights, opportunities, and results should be achieved while acknowledging actual difference between men and women, and legitimate rights and interests of women should be well protected;
Any form of prejudice against women should be eliminated in the dimensions of law, policy, and social practice, and a modern gender culture based on gender equality should be built;
Gender equality should be adequately considered during main decision-making processes. Laws, policies, plans, and work schemes should be developed in such a way as to fully take into account actual differences between men and women and special interests of women.
Enactment and revision of laws by the National People's Congress (NPC) for the protection of women’s rights: The NPC is established as a fundamental political system that combines the leadership of the CPC, the running of the country by the people, and rule of law. When faithfully performing their legislation and supervision duties, the NPC and its Standing Committee put great stress on protection of women’s rights and promotion of women development. A number of relevant organizations have been set up for these purposes successively, including Women & Children Working Group, Office of Communist Youth League, Trade Union, and Women’s Federation under Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee, and Office of Communist Youth League, Trade Union, and Women’s Federation under Social Development Affairs Committee. These organizations are established to vigorously promote and implement the gender equality principle stipulated in the Constitution, follow and collect opinions of the Women’s Federation and women during legislative review and legal supervision, inspect the enforcement of laws protecting women's rights and other pertinent laws, hear related reports, organize thematic investigations, and take practical measures to protect legal rights of women.
Creation and improvement of a working mechanism by the CPPCC for promoting women’s cause: The CPPCC plays an important role in the system of multi-party cooperation and political consultations led by the CPC. The National Committee of CPPCC has successively established a number of women work organizations, including Women Working Group, Women and Youth Committee, Women, Youth, and Legal Affairs Committee, and Social and Legal Affairs Committee. These organizations make recommendations on key and difficult issues related to women development, and handle proposals regarding women's rights. Women’s Federation is one of the 34 circles defined by the National Committee of the CPPCC. In China, a great number of women participate in political consultation, democratic supervision, and participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs through consultation workshops, thematic investigations, and proposal submissions, thus promoting women development and gender equality on a continuous basis.
The creation and improvement of a working mechanism by the government for implementing the fundamental national policy of gender equality: In 1990, National Coordination Committee on Children and Women under State Council was established, which was renamed in 1993 to National Working Committee on Children and Women under State Council. The number of members of this committee has grown from 19 at its establishment to 35 (see Chart 1). This committee performs its legal duties by organizing, coordinating, instructing, and urging relevant departments in their work of women right protection, gender equality, and women development. The committee has its own offices, full-time staff, and funds. Local governmental units with similar functions have also been set up in all counties and higher-level administrative divisions and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, thereby forming a tiered working system of interrelation and cooperation links. Moreover, women's development has been listed as a key target in both general national economic and social development plans and department-specific plans. The Outline of the Twelfth Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China and the Outline of the Thirteenth Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People’s Republic of China contain sections that deal specifically with women development plans and their implementation. There are also clearly defined objectives for the protection of women's rights in National Human Rights Action Plan of China and China's Action Plan against Human Abduction and Trafficking. Since 1995, the Chinese government has successively released three issues of Outline Program for Development of Chinese Women, each clarifying missions and targets for women’s cause in a specific period. The drafting of the outline for the coming period starts in 2019. Other measures of great significance include the creation of a complete gender statistics system, publication of statistics-based monitoring reports for Outline Program for Development of Chinese Women, regular investigations of the social status of Chinese women, and the publication of relevant books such as Men and Women in China: Facts and Figures, Statistics about Conditions of Chinese Women and Children, etc.
The creation and improvement of a working mechanism for women’s federations to serve as a bridge between the CPC and the government and general women groups: All-China Women’s Federation is an organization jointly established by women from different ethnic groups and circles with the purpose of seeking further liberation and development of women. As a mass organization led by the CPC, the federation has formed a network of six levels, i.e. the nation, province (autonomous region, municipality), city (prefecture, autonomous prefecture), county (county-level city, district), township (residential district), and village (community), covering various women associations, institutions, social committees of women or women work committees, and group members (see Chart 2). In the meanwhile, women's federations continue to expand to new sectors, trades, classes, and groups. Following the instructions of the CPC and relevant laws and regulations, these organizations carry out their political responsibilities and basic functions diligently, including promoting solidarity, implementing CPC policies, representing and maintaining of women's rights, and realizing of gender equality and the comprehensive development of women. By sticking to the general directions of the CPC and the government in different stages, they disseminate theoretical roadmaps and policies of the CPC, and guide women to hold on to socialism-based women development paths with Chinese characteristics. The role they play is also unique in social and family life, and instrumental to the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics. All-China Women’s Federation is a member of Central Rural Work Leading Team, the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress, Law Observance and Education Coordination Team under Central Committee for Comprehensive Law-based Governance, the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development, and Employment Work Leading Team under the State Council. In these organizations, it represents the interests of women, and takes part in democratic decision-making, management, and supervision of national and social affairs on behalf of women. All-China Women’s Federation took the initiative in setting up leading teams for programs like “Learning Culture and Technologies, Competing with Achievements and Contributions” and “Accomplishments of Females”, along with coordination teams for “Five-virtue Civil Families” and other activities. These teams help maintain legal rights of women and children while building a coordination mechanism for safe family systems. Through cooperation with different departments, they jointly promote the development of women’s cause. Starting from the 18th CPC National Congress, women’s federations have been engaged in reforms and innovations. These endeavors make them more active in the political arena and bring them closer to the masses. They are now among the most dependable and helpful assistants to the CPC in its women's work. The women’s federations are strengthening cohesive affinity among women with the common ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics. By creating a direct and long-term women communication and service mechanism, they are able to guide, serve, and contact women masses. They also lead other women organizations in serving women, achieving gender equality, and promoting women cause.
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.
Special Column 2:
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (excerpt)
Article 48. 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.
The state protects the rights and interests of women, applies the principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women alike and trains and selects cadres from among women.
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.
III. Women’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.
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.
IV. Women's Political Status Has Grown Significantly
China attaches importance to ensuring women’s equal political rights with men. Since the early years of New China, the state has drawn up and implemented laws to guarantee that women share equal rights with men to vote, to be elected, and to participate in the administration of state affairs. Over the past four decades since the reform and opening-up, steady progress has been made in enhancing China's socialist democracy, which has provided new opportunities and channels for women to participate in politics. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, as China pushes forward the modernization process of state management system and governance capacity, women’s capabilities to participate in the management of state and social affairs have comprehensively improved, and women are playing a greater role in the democratic and political construction.
As the ruling party of China, the CPC has highly valued the training and selection of women cadre and the admission of women Party members. Since the 1990s, reports of every Party congress have made it clear that efforts be taken to train and select women officials. The report of the 19th CPC National Congress emphasized the coordination of the training and selection of women officials, ethnic-minority officials and non-Party officials. Concrete measures including holding special conferences, formulating policies and documents and defining goals and requirements are taken to help steadily strengthen the training and increase the number and proportion of women officials and Party members. The number of female officials at Party and government departments increased from 422,000 in the early 1980s to 1.906 million in 2017, accounting for 26.5% of the total officials. In 2017, women accounted for 52.4% of public servants newly-recruited by the central government organs and their affiliates, and the proportion was 44% among local governments. In 2018, women represented 22% of the leadership in national public institutions, 1.6 percentage points higher than in 2015. In 2018, women accounted for 27.2% of Party members, 16.7 percentage points higher than in 1956. The proportion of women representatives in Party congresses has gradually increased, with the number for the 19th CPC National Congress at 24.2%, 14.9 percentage points higher than in 1956 when the 8th CPC National Congress was held.
There are also higher ratios of women deputies in people’s congresses and women members of the CPPCC. China has valued the role played by women in the people’s congresses and the CPPCC. The election law includes explicit provisions on the proportion of women candidates to national and local people's congresses and requires gradual increase of the proportion. The Program for the Development of Chinese Women (2011-2020) and National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2016-2020) require the proportion of women delegates to the people's congresses and women members of CPPCC committees at all levels to be gradually increased. The ratio of women deputies to the 13th National People' s Congress was 24.9%, 12.9 percentage points higher than in 1954 when the first National People' s Congress was held. The proportion of women members at the 13th CPPCC national committee was 20.4%, 14.3 percentage points higher than 1949 when the first CPPCC was held.
Women's participation in the management of grassroots democracy has become more extensive. There is solid institutional guarantee for women to participate in the management of grassroots democracy, given the proactive measures to drive forward the development of grassroots democracy, the formulation and amendment of laws and regulations regarding rural grassroots organizations of the CPC, organic law of the urban residents’ committees and organic law of the villagers’ committee, and the amendment and improvement of regulations for villagers and urban residents. Since 1980s, the establishment and development of villagers’ autonomy system has provided important protection and created conditions for women to participate in the management of grassroots democracy. In 2017, female representation in village committees was 23.1%, up 7.4 percentage points from 2000. The proportion of women in urban residents' committees has remained high. In 2017, women made up 49.7% of neighborhood committees and female heads of neighborhood committees reached 39.9%. Female participation in democratic management in enterprises has gradually increased as well. In 2017, female workers represented 38.3% of the trade union members and female representatives made up 39.7% and 41.6% of boards of directors and regulatory committees, respectively.
Women and women's organizations have been playing increasingly bigger roles in the development of the country's democracy and political construction. The channels for women to participate in the management of state and social issues have become more diversified and accessible. Women delegates to people's congresses and women members of the CPPCC have earnestly performed their duties by pooling wisdom for the national economic and social development and for the promotion of the women’s cause. Women officials in Party and government organs at all levels have carried out their duties with dedication, implementing basic state policy on gender equality and improving women's development. Women’s awareness of participating in democracy has also improved. Women are offering suggestions and appeals on state and social affairs through various platforms. Women's federations have actively participated in the management of state and social affairs, the formulation of laws, regulations and policies, and taken part in consultative democracy, social governance and public services on behalf of women. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the reform of women’s federation has drawn a number of passionate, professional and influential female elites to work for women’s federations at all levels, especially for grassroots bodies. Female executive members of women’s federations at township and village level have reached 7.7 million, playing a significant role in grassroots governance.
V. Women’s Education Level Has Risen Significantly
China endows men and women with equal rights to education by formulating and implementing laws and regulations. By upholding the policy of prioritizing education and developing education for the benefit of people, narrowing the education gap between urban and rural areas, actively promoting fairness in education, women’s education status has been gradually improved, with their education level greatly lifted.
The drive to eliminate female illiteracy has achieved a remarkable progress. The illiteracy rate for women was much higher than that for men when New China was founded. At the first national education conference held in 1949, a campaign was launched to promote literacy and eradicate illiteracy nationwide. In 1956, China promulgated the Decision to Eradicate Illiteracy, reaffirming the goal of illiteracy eradication. The three illiteracy eradication campaigns in 1950s helped over 16 million women become literate. Since the reform and opening up, China has continued to carry out campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, helping a total of 110 million women become literate by 1993. Since 1995, the government has promulgated and implemented Chinese women’s development outlines covering three different periods, all of which put the eradication of female illiteracy and improvement of female literacy as a major goal and regard the eradication of illiteracy among rural women as a key issue. The illiteracy rate among females aged 15 and above dropped from 90% in 1949 to 7.3% in 2017, which was a historic change.
The gender gap in the nine-year compulsory education has been basically eliminated. On the basis of eradicating female illiteracy, China attaches great importance to guaranteeing the rights and opportunities for girls to receive basic education, having formulated and issued such laws and policies as the Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China to continuously increase investments in compulsory education, giving preferential treatment to rural areas. By offering grants to students in primary and secondary schools, rolling out special support policies for girls, implementing aid projects including the Spring Bud Project and the Project Hope, the country has significantly expanded the opportunities for rural girls to receive education. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, great effort has been made to integrate compulsory education in both urban and rural areas, having overcome the weaknesses in rural compulsory education and created even more opportunities for rural girls to receive education. In 2017, the net primary school enrollment rates of boys and girls were both 99.9%; the proportion of girls in regular primary schools and regular junior high schools was 46.5% and 46.4% respectively, 18.5 and 20.8 percentage points higher than those in 1951 respectively. Gender equality in compulsory education has been basically achieved.
The rate of women enjoying high school and higher education has reached a record high. China attaches great importance to the development of education, with the opportunities for women to enjoy high school and higher education on a steady rise. In the past four decades since the reform and opening up, the country has made a vigorous effort to popularize high school education, giving more assistance to poor areas in central and western China and offering grants to students from impoverished families. As a result, opportunities for girls to receive high school education have remarkably increased. In 2017, the gross high school enrollment rate was 88.3%, with girls accounting for 47.7% of all students in high schools, and 50.9% of students in regular high schools were females. The Higher Education Law of the People's Republic of China promulgated in 1998 created conditions for more females to enjoy higher education by expanding the scale of higher education, promoting educational loan system, and offering students grants and scholarships. Women accounted for 52.5% of students in regular institutions of higher education, 28.4 percentage points higher than in 1978, 32.7 percentage points higher than in 1949 (see Chart 4); women accounted for 48.4% of postgraduate students, 29.8 percentage points higher than in 1985.
The number of women receiving vocational education and continued education has witnessed a marked increase. China has continuously worked to perfect laws and policies regarding vocational education, and gradually established and improved the vocational education system, which have increased the opportunities for women to receive vocational education. The Vocational Education Law of the People's Republic of China promulgated in 1996 states that the country takes measures to help women receive vocational education. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, China has attached more importance to the development of vocational education. The National Implementation Plan for Vocational Education Reform and the Special Implementation Plan for the Expansion of Enrollment by Higher Vocational Schools promulgated in 2019 expanded the scale of enrollment for higher vocational education, promoted the modernization of vocational education, and provided new opportunities for women to receive vocational education. In 2017, women accounted for 42.9% of students in secondary vocational schools. Over the past four decades since the reform and opening up, continued education has witnessed remarkable progress and has become an important channel for women to acquire knowledge, gain skills and improve their qualities. The number and proportion of women participating in higher continued education have both increased year by year. In 2017, women accounted for 58.8% of students in institutes for continued education, 27.3 percentage points higher than in 1988; 47.3% of students attending online higher continued education were women. Besides, women are widely attending non-degree education at all levels and of all categories.
Efforts to ensure girls equally enjoy preschool education have proved effective. When New China was founded, kindergartens were built by institutional units, industrial and mining enterprises, neighborhoods and communes. In 1992, the State Council promulgated the Planning Outline for Development of Chinese Children in 1990s, which stipulates that the kindergarten enrollment rate for children aged 3-6 should reach 35%. Since 2011, China has implemented three three-year action plans for preschool education in a row, solving the difficulty of getting enrolled in kindergartens. China National Program for Women’s Development (2011-2020) stipulates that the gross enrollment rate of preschool education should reach 70% and that girls enjoy equal preschool education. The document, Multiple Opinions on Deepening Reform and Standardizing Development of Preschool Education, issued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in 2018 calls for the popularization as well as safe and quality development of preschool education for the benefit of all. In 2017, the gross kindergarten enrollment rate for children aged 3-6 was 79.6%. The number of children receiving preschool education reached 46 million, with girls accounting for 46.7%.
VI. Women's Health Condition Has Improved Dramatically
Health of women and children is the cornerstone of the health of all people. China attaches great importance to the development of maternal and child health care, incorporates the protection of women's and children's health into the national strategy, and constantly improves the system of laws and policies on maternal and child health. China has established a three-tier network of maternal and child health services, covering urban and rural areas. China vigorously implements maternal and child health projects, providing full life-cycle health services for women and constantly improving the fairness and equalization of maternal and child health services. As a result, women's health has significantly improved.
The system of laws, regulations and policies on maternal and child health has been continuously improved. At the beginning of the founding of the People's Republic of China, maternal and child health was actively promoted as an important part of health care. Over the past four decades since the reform and opening up, China has promulgated and implemented laws and regulations on maternal and child health, including the Law of the People's Republic of China on Maternal and Infant Health Care. China has incorporated maternal and child health into its overall economic and social development plan. Many national plans, including the Outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan, the Outline of the Healthy China 2030, the Program for the Development of Chinese Women and the Program for the Development of Chinese Children, all set out specific targets and measures for maternal and child health, incorporate core indicators of maternal and child health into the target assessment of governments at all levels, and strengthen the primary responsibilities of the government.
A network of maternal and child health services with Chinese characteristics has been improved. China is committed to strengthening the construction of maternal and child health institutions. Since 1950, a network of maternal and child health services with Chinese characteristics has been gradually established in urban and rural areas, with maternity and child care institutions as the core, community-level health care institutions as the foundation, and large and medium-sized medical institutions and relevant research and teaching institutions as the support. Over the past four decades since the reform and opening up, China has continued to increase input in the community-level network of maternal and child health care and improve the service system. China has built an annual reporting system as well as the largest monitoring network in the world on maternal and child health. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the network of maternal and child health care has been gradually embedded into the medical security network covering 1.4 billion people and the three-tier medical care network covering urban and rural areas. The IT construction of maternal and child health has been strengthened. In 2018, there were 3,080 maternal and child care institutions, 807 maternity hospitals and nearly 640,000 maternal and child care workers throughout the country. The World Health Organization lists China as one of the 10 countries with high performance in maternal and child health.
Maternal and child health services have become more equitable and accessible. New China attaches great importance to the safety of mothers and infants, actively popularizing new methods of delivering babies, and preventing and controlling serious diseases that endanger women's physical and mental health. Over the past four decades since the launch of reform and opening up, China has actively promoted pre-marital medical examination, provided comprehensive pregnancy health care services and popularized hospital childbirths. China has also improved postpartum health care services, strengthened the systematic management of pregnant and lying-in women, and gradually established systematic and standardized management systems and service models for pregnant and lying-in women, effectively protecting their health. Since 2000, major public health services for women and children have been implemented to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate neonatal tetanus. The state has subsidized hospital childbirths for rural pregnant women and carried out major projects on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis B. China has also launched the program of free cervical and breast cancer screening for rural women, providing free pre-pregnancy health check-ups. Since 2009, China has implemented the national program for basic public health services, increasing the per capita subsidy from 15 yuan in 2009 to 55 yuan in 2018, and providing 14 types of free basic public health services, including maternal health management. In 2018, the national hospital birth rate increased to 99.9%. By the end of 2018, the program of free cervical and breast cancer screening for rural women has provided free cervical cancer screening for more than 85 million women and free breast cancer screening for 20 million women. The system of women's federations alone has helped 102,200 women having financial difficulties.
Reproductive health services for women have been further strengthened. China has enacted relevant laws, policies, and plans to improve women’s reproductive health. In the 1990s, China launched people-oriented services for family planning, promoted informed choice of contraceptive methods and protected women's rights and interests of reproductive health. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, China has adjusted and improved its family planning policy and strengthened the quality of family planning services. In 2016, the 13th Five-Year Plan on Health Development was released to implement basic programs of free technical services for family planning, popularize the knowledge of contraception, healthy childbirth and child rearing, and reproductive health, improve the accessibility and convenience of pharmaceutical services, enhance reproductive technical guidance services, and lift the level of reproductive health. In 2018, China issued the Maternal and Child Safety Action Plan and the Codes of Contraceptive Services after Induced Abortion to implement five major actions consisting of lowering pregnancy risk, treating severe diseases, improving quality and safety, empowering specialist capacity, and providing convenient and high-quality services for women. The country offers free pre-pregnancy health services including health education and health examination to rural couples who plan for pregnancy. China has launched pilot programs to ensure equal access to family planning and other basic public services by women in the migrant population, and has provided maternal health services for women in the migrant population.
Women's health has further improved. Women’s average life expectancy grew to 79.4 years in 2015, an increase of 10.1 years over 1981 and 42.7 years over 1949 when New China was founded. The maternal mortality rate has fallen 79.4% from 88.8 per 100,000 in 1990 to 18.3 per 100,000 in 2018 (see Chart 5), meaning that China has achieved the United Nations Millennium Development Goals ahead of time. The gap between urban and rural areas has been further narrowed: the ratio of urban to rural maternal mortality decreased from 1:2.2 in 1990 to 1:1.3 in 2018.
VII. Social Security for Women Continues to Improve
China sticks to ensuring and improving women’s livelihood in the course of pursing development. China works to develop a sustainable multi-tiered social security system that covers the entire population in both urban and rural areas, with clearly defined rights and responsibilities, and support that hits the right level. China will work to see that everyone has access to social security, medical services, elderly care, and social assistance. With social security institutionalized, Chinese women have an ever-stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security.
The level of maternity protection for women has increased significantly. China has actively developed a maternity protection system to safeguard women's reproductive rights and interests. From 1949 to 1992, China issued labor insurance regulations, policies of free medical services and regulations on maternity leave for women workers, stating that women who give birth enjoy maternity leave, maternity benefits, childbirth allowances, reimbursement for medical expenses and other services. In 1994, China introduced the Trial Measures for Maternity Insurance for Enterprise Employees which stipulated the financing and treatment of maternity insurance and marked the comprehensive implementation of maternity insurance system for urban employees. The Social Insurance Law of the People's Republic of China, promulgated in 2010, has a separate chapter for maternity insurance, turning departmental regulations to national laws and providing a legal basis for safeguarding women's reproductive rights and interests. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the system of maternity protection has been constantly improved. In 2019, China issued a guideline to combine maternity insurance with basic medical insurance for employees, requiring the integration of the two insurance funds and management resources to ensure that maternity insurance benefits for employees remain sustainable and unchanged during the childbearing, which will help to expand the coverage of maternity insurance and benefit more women who give birth. In 2018, the number of people participating in maternity insurance reached more than 200 million and the number of women was 89.27 million (see Chart 6). Women who participate in basic medical insurance for urban and rural residents enjoy reimbursement for medical expenses for childbirth, and the reproductive rights and interests of unemployed women are protected. China has extended statutory maternity leave from 90 days to 98 days. Relevant laws and regulations have been adjusted gradually in various places and childbirth incentive leave and spouse care leave have also been set up. Some local authorities have explicated provisions on relevant allowance and benefits.
The medical security system for women is fully in place. When New China was founded, a medical security system was established, with government units and public institutions implementing free medical care, enterprises carrying out labor-insurance medical care, and rural areas launching cooperative medical care relying on the collective economy. Women enjoyed different levels of basic medical security. Over the past four decades since the launch of reform and opening up, China has gradually established and improved a basic medical insurance system for workers, a new rural cooperative medical care system and a basic medical insurance system for urban residents. A basic medical insurance system for urban and rural women has been fully implemented. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the multi-level medical security system has been further improved. In 2016, the medical insurance system for urban and rural residents was consolidated and the fairness of the system was enhanced. The urban and rural medical assistance and supplementary medical insurance system were improved, allowing more women to enjoy equitable medical security. According to incomplete statistics, the number of women under basic health insurance around the country in 2018 was approximately 540 million.
The level of old-age security for women has been significantly improved. China has established and continuously improved an endowment insurance system for the urban working group. Since the launch of reform and opening up, China has accelerated the construction of endowment insurance system for non-working urban residents and vigorously promoted a new social endowment insurance system for rural residents. The number of insured women and the level of their treatment have increased step by step. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the old-age insurance system has been further improved. In 2014, the new social endowment social security system for rural residents and the social endowment insurance system for non-working urban residents were unified into the basic endowment insurance system for rural and non-working urban residents, making it possible for urban and rural unemployed women to enjoy basic old-age security on an equal footing. In 2017, nearly 380 million women around the country participated in basic old-age insurance. By the end of 2018, a subsidy system for the elderly with financial difficulties resulting from aging and disability was generally established throughout the country. Elderly women’s living standards are basically guaranteed.
The number of women participating in unemployment insurance and workers' compensation insurance has been increasing. China attaches great importance to the employment and insurance rights and interests of workers to ensure their employment, safety and health. China has implemented the unemployment relief system, the unemployment insurance system in state-owned enterprises, the basic living security system for laid-off workers, and the current unemployment insurance system, generally protecting women who are relatively disadvantaged in employment. In 2017, 79.5 million women around the nation participated in unemployment insurance, and the number of women participating in the work-related injury insurance stood at 85.94 million, an increase of 39.24 million and 55.81 million over 2005, respectively.
The national social assistance system benefits women in need. China has established and gradually improved a social assistance system to provide basic living security for women in need. From natural disaster relief, urban unit security, rural collective assistance and rural “Five Guarantees” in the planned economy period to the minimum living security, relief support for the extremely poor and the temporary assistance system established in the 1990s, women can enjoy equal rights. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the social assistance system has been gradually improved, effectively enabling women in need to share the fruits of reform and development. By the end of 2018, women accounted for 44.8% of the people who have subsistence allowance in urban areas and 42.0% of those in rural areas.
VIII. Women Play Unique Role in Cultivation of Family Virtues
Families are the cells of society. Family harmony is good for social stability, family happiness creates social harmony, and family virtues bring about social civilization. China has always attached great importance to family building, focused on protecting women’s rights to marriage and family, and increasingly consolidated the equality between men and women in marriage and family relations. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, it has paid more attention to family, family education, family tradition, and the unique role of women in family life, promoting the core socialist values to take root in families, and forming a new style of socialist family virtues featuring patriotism, family love, mutual love and care, aspiration for the pursuit of excellence and moral integrity, and joint building and sharing.
Establishing a marriage and family system to improve the equality between men and women. The enactment of the New Marriage Law in 1950 fundamentally abolished the discrimination and oppression against women in the feudal marriage system, and as a result women’s marriage and family life have undergone historical changes. The first 1954 Constitution of the People’s Republic of China clearly prescribed that women and men have equal rights in family life, and that marriage, family, mothers and children are protected by the state. All previous constitutional amendments have focused on protecting women’s equal rights to marriage and family. The amendment of the Marriage Law reaffirmed the implementation of a marriage system featuring the equality between men and women, advocated maintaining equal, harmonious and civilized marriage and family relations, and added provisions prohibiting domestic violence and supporting compensation for housework and divorce damages. Relevant laws and regulations concerning marriage and family relations emphasize the protection of women's rights. In 2015, the Anti-Domestic Violence Law was enacted, which prohibits any form of domestic violence and protects women’s personal rights in family. In 2017, the General Principles of the Civil Law was promulgated and the compilation of the Civil Code was initiated, focusing on further improving the marriage and family system featuring the equality between men and women. In 2017, six government entities, including the All-China Women’s Federation, the Central Public Security Comprehensive Management Commission, and the Supreme People's Court, issued the “Opinions on Preventing and Resolving Marriage and Family Disputes” to provide diverse and convenient services for the public to resolve marriage and family disputes. In 2018, the Supreme People’s Court issued a judicial interpretation to solve the thorny problem concerning the identification standard of the joint debts of husband and wife.
Establishing a policy system to support family and women’s development. After New China was founded, policies closely associated with family were issued, including those related to marriage, maternity, child care, and elderly care. Government entities, industrial and mining enterprises, residential districts, and communes established nursing rooms, nurseries, kindergartens, which liberated women’s labor and supported women’s broad participation in social labor. For more than 40 years since the reform and opening up policy was adopted, China has incorporated family building into the overall plan for national economic and social development. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) outlined clear requirements for family building, emphasized the improvement of family development ability, and attached importance to the role of family in supporting social development and sharing social responsibility. The Program for the Development of Chinese Women (2011-2020) emphasized shared family responsibilities of men and women, development of family-oriented public services, and creation of conditions for both husband and wife to strike a balance between work and family. In 2010, the “Guiding Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on the Development of Family Service Industry” was issued. The All-China Women's Federation and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security jointly implemented a special project for training women on family services to help more couples better balance work and family. Further efforts were made to continue carrying out the campaign of caring girls and deeply promoting the activities of “Bringing a New Marital Style into Thousands of Families”. In 2015, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the “Decision on Implementing a Comprehensive Two-Child Policy Reform and Perfecting Family Planning Service Management” which proposed establishing a family development support system, establishing complete family development policies, including birth support, child rearing, and elderly support. Measures were taken to extensively develop happy family activities and new family plans, strengthen the role of family in child care and elderly care, support women in returning to work after delivery, encourage employers to devise measures that help employees balance work and family, and promote gender equality in society. In 2019, General Office of the State Council issued the “Guiding Opinions on Improving Care Services for Infants Under 3 Years Old,” proposing the establishment of a sound policy and regulation system and a standardized system for infant and child care services, and providing policy support for family parenting.
Coordinating social resources to support family education service. China attaches great importance to family education. Since 1996, the All-China Women’s Federation, the Ministry of Education, the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress and other departments have successively issued five rounds of family education work plans. Since 2010, the “Guiding Outline of National Family Education” and the “Guiding Opinions on Strengthening Family Education Work” were issued, which have played an important role in guiding family education practice in a scientific manner. Family education legislation was incorporated into the legislative plan of the Standing Committee of the 13th NPC, and in some regions regulations on promoting family education were issued. In 2018, the National Education Conference was held, emphasizing the responsibility of the whole society for boosting the healthy growth of the young, and the important role of family, as the first school in life, in helping fasten the first button of life, persisting in the fundamental task of strengthening moral education and cultivating people in family education, and fostering children’s good thinking, good conduct, and good habits. At present, the level of specialization, networking and refinement of family education guidance services has been continuously improved, while the guidance service areas have been diversified. By the end of 2017, a total of 426,000 parent schools were established, 70.86 million training sessions were launched, and 17,000 online parent schools and 65,000 SMS and WeChat service platforms were established. More and more urban and rural families enjoy inclusive and public welfare family education guidance services.
Emphasizing the unique role of women in cultivating family virtues. China attaches importance to the unique role of women in promoting family virtues and establishing good family traditions. From the “Five-Virtue Family” selection activities carried out in urban and rural areas nationwide in the 1950s, to various family virtue cultivation activities, such as beautiful families, five-virtue families, green families, peaceful families, harmonious families, and civilized families, plenty of women actively participated in cultivating family virtues, promoted the development of family virtues such as the equality between men and women, harmony between husband and wife, respect for the elderly, and love for the children, advocated for a green, environmentally friendly and healthy lifestyle, made family a starting point for social peace and harmony, took advantage of model families’ role in encouraging other families to emulate them, respect virtues and good deeds, and pursue a harmonious and happy life. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, more emphasis has been placed on the important role of family in passing on virtues, fostering family traditions, and strengthening moral education and cultivating people. In 2014, since the All-China Women’s Federation organized the “Most Beautiful Family” campaign, the majority of women have participated actively in it, promoting the implementation of the core socialist values in families, passing on family education and family tradition to thousands of households, and supporting good social morality with good family tradition. By the end of 2018, a total of 485 million people had participated in the online and offline search for the “Most Beautiful Family” activities, and more than 3.8 million “Most Beautiful Families” at various levels had stood out. From 1997 to 2018, more than 8,800 households were commended as “Five-Virtue Families.” Since the beginning of 2016, female workers at all levels of trade unions organized practical activities with the theme of “Cultivating Good Family Tradition – Female Employees in Action.” In 2019, the All-China Women's Federation launched the implementation of the “Family Wellbeing Project” (see Chart 7), responding positively to the new needs of a great number of women and hundreds of millions of families in the new era, creating social harmony based on the harmony of small families, and promoting the formation of family happiness and wellbeing.
Family relationship in the new era is more equal, harmonious, and civilized. In the past 70 years, a great number of women have been freed from the feudal marriage system, the degree of autonomy in marriage has been greatly improved, and the awareness of subject and rights in marriage and family relations has been continuously enhanced. Gender equality in marriage and family has improved markedly, and the joint decision-making of family affairs has become a trend. The third round of the Chinese Women’s Social Status survey shows that more than 70% of women participate in the decision-making of family affairs, more and more women share family resources equally, more and more couples share housework, balance family and work, and the gap of time spent in housework between men and women has gradually narrowed. The awareness of rule of law in promoting the healthy development of equal marriage between men and women in the whole society has been continuously improved. The consciousness of respecting the elderly and loving the young, equality between men and women, harmony between husband and wife, and neighborhood unity has become more deeply rooted in people’s hearts. Thousands upon thousands of families have jointly promoted family harmony, family love, the healthy growth of next generations, and elderly care, which has become the cornerstone for national development, people’s progress, and social harmony.
IX. Women Taking Part in Extensive International Exchanges and Cooperation Activities
China attaches great importance to international exchanges and cooperation in the field of women. We strongly support women and women’s organizations represented by the All-China Women’s Federation to actively make friends, build friendships, learn from each other, and promote common development with women around the world. Chinese women’s “circle of friends” are constantly growing. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, in the process of promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, the Chinese women’s cause has achieved a historic leap in leading the development of women worldwide, contributing Chinese plans and strength to women’s movement across the globe.
Actively participating in and hosting international conferences and promoting global women’s development. When New China was first founded, China actively supported women’s organizations to participate in the Women’s International Democratic Federation, and held the All-Asian Women’s Conference, ushering in a new chapter in women’s diplomacy. In 1975, 1980 and 1985, the Chinese delegation attended the First, Second and Third World Conference on Women, participated in drafting documents, and sent out Chinese voices. In 1995, China hosted the Fourth UN World Conference on Women, and proposed a basic national policy of the equality between men and women, making an important contribution to formulating the Beijing Declaration and Program of Action, which played an instrumental role in global gender equality. In 2015, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the 20th anniversary of the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China and the UN Women jointly organized the Global Summit of Women, which was attended by more than 140 heads of state and government, as well as representatives of UN agencies and international organizations. Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the summit and delivered an important speech, profoundly expounding the Chinese proposition of promoting the equality between men and women and women’s all-round development. The summit has achieved fruitful results and injected new vitality into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, introducing a new milestone for the development of women’s cause around the world.
Seriously fulfilling international obligations and reflecting the responsibility of a major country. China actively signs and ratifies the UN’s international instruments in the field of gender equality and fully promotes gender equality and women’s development progress. In 1980, it signed into law the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, earnestly fulfilled its obligations under the Convention, submitted a report on honoring responsibilities on time, received review and implemented the concluding observations of the committee. As a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women and host of the Fourth World Conference on Women, China has successively promulgated and implemented the Outline of Chinese Women’s Development, actively implemented the strategic objectives of 12 major areas of concern of the Beijing Declaration and the Program of Action, and regularly submitted national reports on duty fulfillment. It has also carefully implemented the UN Millennium Development Goals and accomplished tasks such as reducing extreme poverty and hunger, eliminating gender disparities in education, and reducing maternal mortality. China has seriously implemented the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, prioritized the empowerment of women and girls in country programs, honored ministerial and departmental responsibilities, and made positive progress on a number of development goals.
Conducting dialogue and exchanges and promoting mutual learning and sharing. China attaches great importance to supporting foreign exchanges in the field of women. It has maintained friendly exchanges with 145 countries, 429 women’s organizations, institutions and relevant UN organizations and special agencies. China’s rapid development has opened up broad space for international exchanges between women and women’s organizations. The dialogue and exchanges between Chinese women and women from all over the world are deepening and become more harmonious, friendship is strengthening, and cooperation is constantly increasing. Entering the new era, all-round, wide-ranging and multi-level opening up has provided new opportunities for international exchanges in the field of women. In the overall national diplomacy, the dialogue and exchanges between Chinese and foreign women led by the All-China Women’s Federation are further deepening. Under the framework of the national exchange mechanism, a women’s humanity exchange mechanism has been established, while organizing “Women’s Cultural Week” and exchange activities enables women from different social systems, cultural backgrounds and countries with different levels of development to conduct deep and profound communication with each other and introduce China and Chinese women to the world. At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China-Arab States Cooperation Forum (CASCF), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Group of Twenty (G20), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China has hosted many women’s conferences, supported the institutionalization of G20 Women’s Conference, and promoted the development of SCO Women’s Forum towards the direction of institutionalization. Further efforts have been made to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with neighboring countries, women and women’s organizations in developing countries, and enhance mutual trust and friendship.
Conducting pragmatic cooperation to promote common development. China has continuously increased multi-dimensional and all-round international exchanges and cooperation, and actively promoted the development of women’s health, education, economy, poverty alleviation and the environment. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, women’s development aid projects have been continuously implemented to support and help women in developing countries to reduce poverty, increase employment, and improve people’s livelihood. China donated to UN Women for four consecutive years to support the UN in promoting gender equality and women’s development. It has implemented the commitment to assisting women in developing countries, helping developing countries implement 100 “Happy Campus Projects” and 100 “Mother and Child Health Projects” from 2015 to 2020, inviting 30,000 women to train in China, and training 100,000 professional and technical women in their home countries. China also established Chinese and Foreign Women’s Training (Communication) Centers in 13 countries, provided small-scale relief and assistance to countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, helping local women improve production and living conditions and strengthen capacity building. Since 2015, the All-China Women’s Federation has trained more than 2,000 women in leading roles for 98 countries.
The role of women in foreign affairs is increasingly evident. Women and women’s organizations are actively involved in international affairs. Since 1982, Chinese representatives have been elected to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on nine occasions. China is one of the major funders of UN peacekeeping operations and the largest contributor of peacekeeping troops among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and nearly 1,000 women participated in UN peacekeeping missions. China’s peacekeeping battalion in South Sudan has a female warrior class. Mao Ping, the first female commander dispatched for an overseas peacekeeping mission, was awarded the “Outstanding Women Award” by the Lebanese government. A number of female diplomats are active in the field of national diplomacy. As of October 2018, there were 2,065 female diplomats in China, who accounted for 33.1% of the total number of diplomats, including 14 female ambassadors, 21 female consuls and 326 female counselors above the division level. Women have fully demonstrated their charms and contribute their wisdom and strength in foreign affairs.
Every step of the development of women’s cause has promoted the progress of human civilization. In the 70 years since New China was founded, Chinese women’s cause has made brilliant development. The advance of Chinese women’s cause is a course of struggle under the strong leadership of the CPC, where hundreds of millions of women fought for the prosperity of the country and the rejuvenation of the nation. It is a historical process where women, economy, and society made simultaneous accomplishments. It is an integration process for the equality between men and women, and social civilization and development. It is a civilization process in which Chinese women join hands with women around the world to build a beautiful world.
China’s development has entered a new era. Promoting gender equality and women’s overall development at a higher level not only meets opportunities, but also has a long way to go. Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China will always adhere to safeguarding and improving women’s livelihood in development, remain true to the original aspiration and continue marching forward, promote women’s all-round development, and lead hundreds of millions of women in contributing to the goals of “The Two Centenaries” and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
China is willing to strengthen exchanges and cooperation over women-related issues with all countries and contribute wisdom and strength to promoting the building of a community of a shared future for mankind and a better world.