How change damaged the position of Chinese women – Zhang Lijia

3 Flares 3 Flares ×

Zhang Lijia at the BBC

China’s shift from a planned to a market has lifted millions out of poverty, but for many women the deal has been a bad one, says Beijing-based journalist Zhang Lijia, author of Lotus: A Novel on prostitution in China at Sea Globe.

Sea Globe:

Zhang pointed to figures released by the UN in 2015 that reveal a growing income gap between men and women in post-Mao China. The report found that between 1990 and 2010, average urban income for women as a percentage of that of men had dropped from 77.5% to 67.3%. For women outside the major cities, the figure was as low as 56%.

“When China shifted from the planned economy to the market economy, women shouldered too much of the burden and cost,” Zhang said. “When the state-owned enterprises laid off workers, women were always the first to be let off. And it is much harder for middle-aged women to find re-employment.”

Zhang also pointed to a resurgence in pre-Maoist values that ascribed strict limits to the role – and value – of women in Chinese society.

“I think some of the old attitudes towards women, which place women as inferior to men, resurfaced,” she said. “At workplaces, Mao-style gender equality has been replaced by open sexism… Sometimes they refuse to hire women of a child-bearing age or sack them after they become pregnant.”

More at Sea Globe.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more female speakers at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out this list.