One hundred years after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was secretly established on a Shanghai ship, China and the world that the Communist Party wanted to overthrow in 1921 are very different.
People are richer than their ancestors might have imagined, have fewer children and more job opportunities.
But in the turmoil, one thing remains the same.
Men continue to dominate political power.
No women were present in Shanghai that day, and women’s rights were not specifically mentioned, even though they were widely mentioned as part of China’s “New Culture Movement” and the protests on May 4, 1919, which would prove to the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Inspired.
At the most recent 2017 National Congress of the Communist Party of China- The event is held every five years -According to data from the China Data Lab, a project of the University of California, San Diego, among the 938 elite representatives, women account for only 83, accounting for less than 10% of the total.
Most women were found in the Provincial Standing Committee, becoming increasingly scarce as power increased, until they reached Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan, who was the only woman among the 25 members of the Politburo.
In the party’s most elite inner circle, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, there is not a single woman.
Party without young people
To a certain extent, the absence of women is the reason for the dynamics of party members and how individuals are promoted. Nowadays, women account for only about a quarter of the members. Once they enter, they are often led to compete for smaller positions than their male counterparts.
In other words, they lost from the beginning.
Victor Shih, an associate professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of California, San Diego, said: “There may be pro-male bias when recruiting party members, and there may also be pro-male bias in placing men or women in important positions.”
“Policing, Internet censorship, and the military are very important, and they are often male-dominated professions. Women are usually placed in education, united front (propaganda) work, and social policy. You can reach a very high level in these professional fields, but you No fast path to the top is visible,” he said.
Promotion requires party members to reach certain milestones to qualify for elite positions. Most of China’s top leaders have served as governors or party secretaries of provinces or major cities, but there are only a handful of women holding these positions, so few female candidates are considered qualified for high-level positions.
When they are ready to take up elite positions, many women have already retired—in China, women are only 55 years old.
“It’s not like the United States, where 45-year-old Barack Obama or Kennedy can run for office,” said Richard McGregor, author of “The Party: The Secret World of Chinese Communist Rulers.” “You get promoted in a very methodical manner, and then you retire in a very methodical manner. It is very rare to be a member of the Politburo before the age of 55, which means that even with such a bad record of promoting women, it is difficult to correct.”
Valarie Tan, an analyst at the Mercator China Research Institute, said that although 10% of provincial, city and county leadership positions should be reserved for women, the quota is rarely met due to a deep-rooted preference for men. Germany.
In addition to institutional barriers, Tan said that women often face self-evident cultural prejudices and state-supported promotion of traditional gender norms. These steps have been accelerated under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping because China is facing birth rate decreases.
“Gender stereotypes or historical traditional norms still exist today. What I want to say is that under the leadership of Xi Jinping, women will eventually get married, take care of children, grow old, and take care of grandchildren,” Tan said.
According to the China Archives, an online magazine of the Asia Society Center for U.S.-China Relations, party members account for 37.5% of village and neighborhood committees, but this number has declined in leadership positions.
The proportion of women serving as county-level government heads or party committee secretaries is only 9.33%, while that of cities has dropped to 5.29% and that of provincial governments has dropped to 3.23%.
“As a woman, you just don’t have the resources to do other things outside of home,” Tan said. “On the demand side, those in power just don’t want women to gain higher political leadership, because this threatens the status quo and patriarchy.”
Worthy of the name
Linda Javin, author of the book “The Shortest History of China,” explained that although the party’s “revolutionary” statements have always included stories of model female workers, feminism has always been subordinate to the organization’s political and economic ambitions.
Jia Wen said: “From the very beginning, the party advocated that women are strong and must be given certain rights so that they can become part of the communist project like men.”
In fact, one of the famous quotes most often attributed to Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China-“Women can hold up half the sky”-is not an inspiring call for women’s rights, but was triggered by a collective farm. It was added in 1953 after giving women the same “work points” as men, and its productivity tripled.
Although Chinese women have been endowed with “nominal egalitarianism” since the Mao Zedong era, on the surface, the old practices of including gender-based violence and later favoring boys under the one-child policy still exist. According to the latest census report, there are 34.9 million more men than women in China today.
As China shifted to market reforms and opened up the economy in the 1980s, customs and prostitution, including concubine or “mistress culture”, which were thought to have largely been eliminated, returned.
Today, discussions about feminism and sexual harassment are being censored online, and the Communist Party has made divorce more difficult—even in domestic violence cases, there is a new mandatory “cooling-off period”. Other problems, such as pay inequality, still exist.
Jia Wen said that this is because men in the party are unwilling to give up power and therefore pursue a policy of maintaining the status quo.
“The CCP is happy to talk about strong and successful women who have contributed to the country. The party and state media may introduce female representatives to the National People’s Congress, but few women have real power, and no one holds office in the highest ruling body. , Politburo Standing Committee, you can’t talk about structural issues that hinder women, and some really serious feminists in China want to talk about it,” said Jia Wen. “Basically, it comes down to patriarchs who don’t want to share power.”
Even so, the problems faced by Chinese women are by no means uncommon in East Asia.Rival Japan is called “a democracy without women”, and the number of men in the political arena still exceeds that of women Korea, Taiwan with Hong Kong, Although all three have female leaders.
Lynette Ong, associate professor of the Institute of Political Science and Asia at the University of Toronto, said that in the social field, gender bias still exists in the region. According to some measures, Chinese urban women are still better than their neighbors in South Korea and Japan. Women in South Korea and Japan are still under pressure to give up their jobs after giving birth, cutting off their careers and any possible entry. Political opportunity.
“I want to say that this is all relative-although women do not have equal status with men in China, their lives are better than when the nation was founded. Moreover, compared with the status of women in other Confucian societies such as Japan and South Korea, Chinese women Especially women in big cities can be said to enjoy a better status. This is mainly because they were’liberated’ by Chairman Mao,” Wang said.
Whether it is liberated or not, Chinese women still have a long way to go before they can hold up half of the political sky.