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The Situation of Chinese Women


Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

June 1994, Beijing

 

Foreword

 

In March 1992, the United Nations decided to hold in 1995 the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the capital of China. This has aroused greater world attention on the status of Chinese women.

 

In the feudal society which lasted several millennia and the subsequent century of semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, Chinese women experienced a bitter history of prolonged oppression, degradation and abasement. From the first half of this century, masses of women plunged into an undaunted and heroic struggle lasting several decades under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. This was a quest for national liberation and their own emancipation. It was not until the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 that Chinese women, who make up one-fourth of their sex in the world, finally won their historic freedom.

 

New China proclaimed that Chinese women enjoy equal rights with men in all aspects of political, economic, cultural, social and family life and that they have become, like all Chinese citizens, masters of the state and society. Chinese laws guarantee that women and men enjoy the same rights and status and have equal personal dignity. The Chinese government employs legal, administrative and educational means to eliminate all kinds of discrimination against women and protect their special rights and interests. Today, as an important token of civilization and progress, Chinese women enjoy the equal rights which had remained unattainable in Chinese society over millennia and which only became accepted in many developed countries after some centuries.

 

Under the socialist system, the once-stifled wisdom and talents of Chinese women have been released to a great extent. Women are actively plunging into China's social development as masters of society, becoming a great force in both economic construction and cultural and ideological advances. They are a vital force in China's reform and opening to the outside world and the modernization drive. Women have made extremely important contributions in various undertakings, including industrial and agricultural production, science, culture, education and health care. In China, the expression "women hold up half the sky" has become the most vivid expression the entire society uses to praise the role played by women.

 

While women's impetus for social development has been forming, great changes have taken place in their mental outlook. They have gained a sense of self-respect, self-confidence, self-reliance and self-strengthening and have taken long strides forward in their ability to participate in government and political affairs, in their cultural accomplishment, level of scientific knowledge and production skills.

 

Chinese women have a glorious peace-loving tradition. They have never forgotten the calamities caused by aggressive wars and rendered resolute support for the peaceful foreign policies adopted by the Chinese government. No matter what clashes might break out in the world, they always stand on the side of justice and the victims of aggression and oppose violence and aggression. Chinese women are an important force in safeguarding world peace.

 

Over the past 45 years, especially in the 15 years since the introduction of reform and opening to the outside world, Chinese women have achieved truly historic advances toward the goal of "equality, development and peace". This great forward march is an important component of the progressive cause of women worldwide; it is also an important part of the progress China has made in human rights.

 

China is a developing country. Owing to the constraints of social development and the influence of old concepts, the condition of Chinese women is still not wholly satisfactory. There exist various difficulties and resistance which have prevented the full realization of equal rights to women with respect to their participation in political and government affairs, employment, access to education, as well as marriage and family. Instances of looking down upon and discrimination against women and even infringement of their rights still occur from time to time. On the other hand, the overall competence of women remains to be further enhanced. All these account for the fact that the road toward emancipation and progress for Chinese women has not reached its end. The Chinese government is making every effort to develop the economy, strengthen the legal system, eradicate all backward ideas of discriminating against and looking down on women and promote equal rights for men and women in all spheres of social life as stipulated in Chinese law. This will speed the realization of the various development goals of the Nairobi Strategies in China before the end of this century.

 

The Chinese government, Chinese women and Chinese people as a whole warmly welcome the convocation of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. They are going all out to make comprehensive preparations for the congress. To enable the international community to acquire a better understanding of the condition of women in the host country, we have prepared this report for release to the world.

 


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