How Does It Feel Being a Woman in China?

A photo of a Chinese woman wearing a traditional Chinese costume.
China Brides Caption logo Chinese women have experienced oppression because of the traditional Chinese culture. | Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

Confucius’s philosophy of ‘filial piety’ inspired the most systemic, institutionalized, and deeply ingrained sexist philosophies and practices in China from 551 to 479 B.C.

According to this philosophy, women should obey men, people should obey their rulers, and the younger should obey the elderly. The patriarchal social order in China was upheld by these three obediences.

Women, however, are frequently subjected to abusive practices in the region. The selling and buying of women, wife-beating, and female infanticide are examples of these crimes. These violent acts, often committed by men, seem to be concrete reasons why Chinese women fight for their rights.

Women in China also suffered as a result of their relatively low social status, which is close to that of women in other countries. Back then, traditional Chinese culture emphasized women’s primary positions in society, which only revolved around raising children and household management.

Regardless of how inferior Chinese women were at the time, Soong Ching-Ling, a well-known Chinese political figure, stood up for women in China and fought for their liberty and equality in a nonviolent manner. Her main contribution to Chinese women’s empowerment was influencing policies in the country concerning women’s representation in society.

China is currently regarded as one of the world’s most advanced nations. One of the country’s most long-standing political issues is the emancipation of women’s equal participation in professional and political arenas.

Chinese Women’s Involvement, Now and Then

  1. Formal Education

School education started in China about 2,500 years ago. Confucius had enrolled approximately 3,000 Chinese people by that time because he believed that “Education should be provided for all without discrimination.”

However, the term “all” did not include girls; in fact, girls were deprived of the right to be educated until the end of imperial power in 1911.

Women’s education used to be very different from what it is now. The aim of traditional female education was to teach social ethics and family traditions. These two topics stressed the significance of improving one’s position as a wife and mother in the family.

The People’s Republic of China was established more than 71 years ago. At the same time, 90 percent of girls and women over the age of 15 were uneducated. The contemporary western educational system was implemented in the country during the twentieth century. The girls were assigned to a school that was specifically built for them.

After several years, the country’s Compulsory Education Law went into effect in 1986. This legislation guarantees people the right to a government-funded nine-year education.

According to the journal Gender Inequality in Chinese Education,

“Thanks to the compulsory education system and gender equity promotion, the gender gap in educational attainment has been greatly eliminated in the past decades.”

Over the last few decades, there has been a noticeable increase in female enrollment in higher education. Female tertiary students accounted for 51.4 percent of the overall university student population.

Women are becoming more interested in science and technology disciplines. They are also benefiting from more government services that subsidize their college tuition fees.

A photo of a woman busy finishing her work.
China Brides Caption logo Chinese culture has started to reform, allowing women to participate in socio-economic activities. | Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash
  1. Job Opportunities

China’s gender inequality has delayed birth rates and employment growth. However, it has raised the percentages of single women trafficking.

Despite the fact that China has the highest rate of female labor-force participation, women are still seen as nurses and housewives. Unfortunately, they spend more time than men doing unpaid household chores.

As per a recent study, more than 85 percent of respondents stated that raising children would have an effect on a woman’s career growth, both positively and negatively.

Gender discrimination occurs not only in the workplace, but also in job ads.

In 2018, 19% of job postings in China needed male applicants, contradicting the fundamental principle that men and women are equal.

When job opportunities are aimed at women, they have expectations for women that are unrelated to the job description. Married women with children are needed, as are specific physical characteristics such as height and weight.

Since gender inequality has become a major concern, the Chinese government passed legislation to protect women in 2019. Employers are not allowed to question women about their marital status or whether they have children as part of their work conditions, according to the law.

  1. Political Power

China has been classified as the world’s second largest economy. This appreciation can be seen in the country’s impressive economic development over the last three decades.

Chinese men and women have played critical roles in a wide range of socioeconomic activities. However, women’s overall public involvement in the country has not increased significantly.

The United Nations Women’s Conference in 1995 stressed “parity,” which is described as 50 percent representation of men and women in positions of power in order to attain gender balance.

Several debates have erupted over the concept of Chinese women’s political participation. The debate centered on five main points: 1) aspiration and power, 2) women in government, 3) women in leadership and decision making, 4) women involved in mass organizations, and 5) women raising concerns and contributing suggestions.

Women’s participation in politics, on the other hand, has changed at the local and county levels, but not at the national level.

The topic of Chinese women in power implies that negative consequences of the past, misunderstanding of the relationship between universal and sexual identity effective strategies, and a lack of general obligation to the philosophy of gender equality have been obstacles to women’s emancipation in China.

China’s Social Reconstruction for Gender Equality

A photo of two working women.
China Brides Caption logo The Chinese government has implemented laws that make men and women equal in society. | Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Due to advancements in education and the introduction of successive laws that protect women, the role of women in China has changed dramatically since the 1950s.

Modern Chinese women are literate, self-assured, and competent in their chosen fields. Economic growth is one of the reasons they are given numerous job opportunities.

In reality, women hold executive positions in one-third of state-owned enterprises.

Despite the fact that women in China are traditionally seen as inferior and frail, they have continuously battled for their position in society.

“Women hold up half the sky.” - Mao Zedong

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