Author Zhang Lijia attended a meeting on the position of women in China at the US embassy in Beijing. At her weblog, she reports about her contribution. Are they holding up half of the sky, as Chairman Mao said?
Chairman Mao famously said that “Women can hold up half of the sky”. That statement may be as illusive as the sky itself but the Chinese Communists have indeed done a great deal for Chinese women, granting them with the equal rights, equal pay and so on. The women in the workforce rose from 7% in 1949 to today’s 70%. One area China hasn’t fared so well is in the participation of women in politics.
Women only account for 21.4% of deputies in National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, falling short of 30%, a target set by the UN’s Forth Conference on Women held in Beijing back in 1995. The percentage of female representation rose steadily in the early years of PRC. In recent years, the figure has gone down slightly.
It seems the higher the political ladder, the fewer the percentage of female presence. There are only 15% women in the standing committee of NPC, and there are only one woman (Wu Yi) in the 25-seat politburo and no women at all in the more powerful politburo’s standing committee. A decree introduced in 2007 to guarantee a minimal 22% of female representatives has not made any impact, it seems.