Confucian Ideas about Women
Confucian thoughts have greatly influenced the minds of China. During the Han dynasty, Confucianism became a part of the official education, which helped spread it across China. In later dynasties, male authority was enforced which brought a woman’s status down. In the Confucian society, women were to hold a lower position than men. Women could only obtain power by becoming a mother. They had the task of producing son and it was frowned upon if they birthed girls. Their nature was expected to be passive and to revolve around their husbands and their family. Other Confucian ideas taught many that women were the cause of disorder. It was also taught that women should not rule and that people were not to concern themselves with women’s ideas. Many of these ideas still influence the way Chinese women are treated today.
Discrimination in Education and Employment
Even though a law has been promoted to protect women’s rights, women are still discriminated. It’s hard for women to get jobs even if they have degrees. Most good jobs are open only to men. Women aren’t offered many nice jobs that pay fair. Men and women work equally but women get paid 78% of the pay the men get. Chinese women make up one-third of workers in the fields of trade, industry, finance, and communication. They also make up almost half of the workers in education and health. Women’s federations have created programs in rural areas to develop courtyard economies. Women work to weave household accessories out of maize husks. Young women get hired at embroidery factories so that they can continue to have babies but be able to work at home. Many rural girls aren’t being sent to school. Many rural parents don’t want to “waste” their money on a girl who will end up being married off to another family. Over 70% of school dropouts are girls and over 70% of about 220 million who are semiliterate or illiterate in China are women. In 1990, about 200,000 women were university graduates. This made up about one-third of the college graduates in China. Another factor of why there are women enrolled in higher education is because some universities openly express the fact that they discriminate against girls. This happens even if girls score equally as high or higher than boys in exams.
Women and the Government
The government made a gender equality law in 1949 but discrimination against women continues. In 2005, the Chinese government released a white paper to mark the 10th anniversary of the Fourth UN World Conference on Women. This law promotes equality between women and men in nine aspects including politics and family life. The white paper points out that the government is doing what they can to eliminate discrimination in education. The white paper also acknowledges the fact that the gender equality problems have not been resolved. Not many women play an important part in the government. The Central Committee is the highest ring of the Communist party in China. Only 22 members are women in the Central Committee of 192 people. Women’s political influence has increased over the passed 50 years but it still remains low.
A woman was working in guizhou,China 2012. (Photography by WRIC )
Violence Against Women
It is very common in China for women to get abused. It is found acceptable in some parts of China for men to abuse their wives. There are not any laws to protect women from domestic abuse. Many authorities don’t report abuse because they think that wife abuse is a family matter. Most domestic abuse is found in urban areas. Many women don’t like to report abuse or get divorces because they are pressured to maintain a family. Women that suffer from abuse have no way of escaping because there aren’t any shelters that they can go to.
Abduction and Trafficking of Women
Women have been the primary targets of abduction, illegal imprisonment, physical and sexual assault, and sale. This remains a serious problem in China. Mainly only rural parts of China conduct trafficking. There are women that are being sold as brides in the black market. Men who have purchased women don’t get arrested meaning that the trade of women is still active. Usually when victims try to escape, they get brutally beaten, imprisoned, and possibly murdered. Even if a woman escapes, law enforcement officers recapture her. This happens because some officials say that the man who purchased the woman is the owner. Many women that are bought are also given marriage licenses to prove that they are married to the buyer. As China’s economy falls, more and more women are voluntarily. This happens because some of the women are being convinced by traders that if they are sold, they will get better opportunities. The government wants to stop the trade of women, but some officials are involved. Women can only be saved if they make a complaint or if their family makes a complaint.
Protection of Chinese Women’s Rights
Chinese women have trouble getting their laws enforced and many of them don’t know their rights and need to be informed of them. There are many organizations that deal with these problems. Many Women Organizations report women’s problems to authorities and suggest solutions. They also stress the fact that women want equality. Notices have been put up to stop trafficking women Fudan University has a union that calls women (mainly women that work) to remind them of their rights. Notices have been put up to remind people of women’s rights. China set up an All-China Women’s Foundation to protect and preserve the rights of women. The Constitution also enforces rights of women in political, economic, cultural and family life.