ĦĦ
About China > People > Population
Advanced Search
E-Mail This Article Print Friendly Format
Chinese Women

 Equal Legal Status

China attaches great importance to providing legal protection for females. Women enjoy equal legal status with men. Now, a comprehensive legal system has come into being to protect the rights and interests of women and promote sexual equality. It takes the Constitution as the basis and the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women as the core, and encompasses various specific state laws and regulations, administrative decrees and regulations enacted by various government departments, and local legislation.

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China clearly stipulates, "Women enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres of life, political, economic, cultural and social, including family lifeĦ­ 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 womenĦ­ Marriage, the family and mother and child are protected by the stateĦ­ Violation of the freedom of marriage is prohibited. Maltreatment of old people, women and children is prohibited." In line with the principles established by the Constitution, New China has promulgated over 10 fundamental laws, including the Marriage Law, Electoral Law, Law of Inheritance, Civil Law and Criminal Law. The State Council and various ministries and commissions under it have enacted over 40 administrative decrees and regulations. Local governments have devised more than 80 local regulations and rules. All these legislations include clear provisions on the protection of the rights and interests of women. No law in China contains clauses that discriminate against women.

The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women promulgated in 1992 provided an effective legal weapon for further enhancing the social status of women and guaranteeing their basic rights and interests.

 Equal Rights and Important Role in Economic Sphere

Improvement of the economic status of women constitutes the most important foundation for achieving sexual equality. The Chinese government has made fruitful efforts to upgrade and enhance the economic status of women. Under new conditions, Chinese women have become a great force in the country's social development, making major contributions to the socialist economic construction.

Chinese women enjoy equal rights with men in employment. Since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, the population of employed women has risen constantly. In China, employed females now account for some 44 percent of the total number of employees, higher than the world rate of 34.5 percent. In 1992, employed females made up 72.33 percent of all women over 15, and in the countryside, women laborers made up half the rural labor force. The number of urban working women increased from 600,000 in 1949 to 56 million; while their share of the country's total working population went up from 7.5 percent to 38 percent.

Women's areas of employment cover a wide range. Among 12 branches of the national economy, nine employ over 1 million women. They include industry, agriculture, construction, transportation and communications, commerce, public healthcare, education, Party and government organs and social organizations. There has been a remarkable upgrading of the kinds of jobs they are holding. In 1992, the number of women in scientific research and comprehensive technological services, Party and government organs and social organizations, and financial and insurance establishments accounted for 34.4 percent, 21.6 percent and 37.3 percent respectively of all employed in these fields.

The principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women is basically in place. In China, workers in the same industries, doing similar kinds of work and having the same technical skills, receive the same pay regardless of sex.

 Full Advance in Society

In old China, women were excluded from social life. New China has enabled women to make conspicuous progress in all aspects of society, especially in the fields of education, science and technology, culture, sports and public health.  

The Chinese government has exerted great efforts to promote women's education. In 1992, the attendance rate for girls from 7 to 11 years old had risen to 96.2 percent from less than 20 percent before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The proportion of females in middle schools, colleges and postgraduate schools reached 43.1 percent, 33.7 percent and 24.8 percent respectively. Among engineering college graduates, women accounted for 27 percent. Since the academic degree system was resumed during 1982-1993, 1,149 women have been awarded doctorates, making up 9.4 percent of total PhD recipients.

The Chinese government has also paid special attention to promoting adult and vocational education and eliminating illiteracy among women. There are 1,679 women's secondary vocational schools and three women's vocational colleges, which offer more than 60 specialties suitable for women. Over 13 million women are enrolled in institutions of higher learning. Female illiteracy rate has fallen from 90 percent in 1949 to 32 percent in 1993.

All rights reserved. Reproduction of text for non-commercial purposes is permitted provided that both the source and author are acknowledged and a notifying email is sent to us.