Have Chinese Women Been Liberated In The People's Republic Of China?

2304 words - 9 pages

Women in the PRC (People's Republic of China) have not been liberated because they still lack autonomy in deciding life choices, this essay will explore how this occurs in the workforce, in the family and in politics. In the workforce, Chinese women are limited in their ability to choose and be considered for employment, because of various discriminatory workplace practices. In the family arena, women's choices are also limited as they continue to encounter problems exercising their autonomy in cases of divorce and domestic violence. Finally, Chinese women lack the power to have their choices heard on a large scale through political participation because of the policies followed by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) over the last half century.Chinese women are not liberated in the workplace, they are still prevented from gaining jobs and economic independence by discriminatory legislation, backward social ideology and a male dominated work environment. Today, 47% of the PRC's workforce is female but few are in management positions. Since the reform period, discrimination against women in "...hiring, rewards, promotion and pressure to withdraw...from the labour force" has increased. One reason for this is that equal rights legislation is not strongly enforced and workplace practices are generally "...left to the discretion of employers." Sometimes legislation itself is also discriminatory. For example, the law compels women to retire five years earlier than men and although this "..may benefit women in some ways, ...[it] deprives those who wish to continue working of the opportunity to do so." The lack of women in high level positions is also often explained by arguing that women are less competitive in the workforce because they shoulder the burden of domestic and child rearing duties, but in fact, ideological factors are probably more significant. Cooke, F.L. points out that women in governmental organizations can often afford to pay for household help and have access to the "...excellent child care facilities provided by their state-employer." In the broader community the one child policy serves to decrease the time women might devote to child rearing and "...the care of young children [is] supplemented by the support of other family relatives.". Moreover, Chinese women tend to lead a continuous career on a fulltime basis and not take career breaks to have children. Finally, women fall behind men in their careers too early to attribute the trend to child rearing. So what remains is simply a social perception that women have a domestic role to fulfill and will therefore not work as well as men, regardless of whether there is actual evidence to that effect. In the Chinese ideology, there is also an enduring perception that men "..should be the smarter and more successful partner in the (marital) relationship..." This causes many couples to decide that the husbands career will take precedence over the wife's and acts as a disincentive to women who...

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