Chinese Women Rights

Topics: Human rights, One-child policy, Abortion Pages: 12 (4171 words) Published: April 24, 2002
Chinese Women Rights

Even since the dramatic post-1949 changes in China regarding the role of women, China has remained paternalistic in it's attitudes and social reality. Like many other states, China inescapably has been deeply involved in human rights politics at the international level in recent decades. During this period of time, the Chinese government has been increasingly active in participating in the international human rights regime. China has so far joined seventeen human rights conventions, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, and has expressed its respect for international human rights law. In 1997 China signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and in 1998 China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The land reform, which was intended to create a more balanced economic force in marriage, was the beginning of governmental efforts to pacify women, with no real social effect. Communist China needed to address the "woman question". Since women wanted more equality, and equality is doled out from the hands of those in power, capitalism was examined. The economic issues of repressed Chinese women were focused on the Land Act and the Marriage Act of 1950. The Land reform succeeded in eliminating the extended family's material basis and hence, its potential for posing as a political threat to the regime. Small-plots were redistributed to each family member regardless of age or sex; and land reform provisions stipulated that property would be equally divided in the case of divorce. Nonetheless, their husbands effectively controlled land allotted to women. Patriarchal familial relationships in the Confucian tradition seemed to remain intact. The Marriage Law of 1950 legalized marriage, denounced patriarchal authority in the household and granted both sexes equal rights to file for divorce. The second and most prominent element of the strategy was integrating women into economic development. The PRC ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1980 and enacted the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests in 1992. However, open discrimination against women in China has continued to grow during the period of reform of the last 15 years. According to PRC government surveys, women's salaries have been found to average 77% of men's, and most women employed in industry work in low-skill and low-paying jobs. An estimated 70 to 80% of workers laid off as a result of downsizing in factories have been women, and, although women make up 38% of the work force, they are 60% of the unemployed. At job fairs, employers openly advertise positions for men only, and university campus recruiters often state that they will not hire women. Employers justify such discrimination by saying that they cannot afford the benefits they are required to provide for pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants. The proportion of women to men declines at each educational tier, with women comprising some 25% of undergraduates in universities. Institutions of higher education that have a large proportion of female applicants, such as foreign language institutes, have been known to require higher entrance exam grades from women. Although China has a law mandating compulsory primary education, increasing numbers of rural girls are not being sent to school. Rural parents often do not want to "waste" money on school fees for girls who will "belong" to another family when they marry. According to official statistics, about 70% of illiterates in China are female. Women's employment was viewed as a prerequisite for emancipation from bourgeois structures as embodied in the patriarchal family. Furthermore, at the core of the CCP's strategy for political consolidation was economic reconstruction and rural development. The full participation of women was not only an ideological imperative but a pragmatic one. Third, the All-China Women's...

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