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The Evaluation and Analysis of the Government’s Entity Responsibilities of Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Development
October 23,2019   By:CSHRS

The Evaluation and Analysis of the Government’s Entity Responsibilities of Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Development

FAN Hongxia* & JIANG Xiuhua**

Abstract: During the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, the Chinese government, on the basis of adhering to the constitutional principle of equality between men and women, has proposed and resolutely implemented the basic state policy of equality between men and women, and constantly explored and implemented ways and measures to promote gender equality and the women’s all-round development. In enacting laws, formulating policies, drawing up plans and deploying work, the Chinese government has taken into account the practical differences between the genders and the special interests of women, promoted women’s equal exercising of their democratic rights, equal participation in economic and social development and equal enjoyment of the fruits of reform and development, and provided stronger systematic and institutional guarantees for women’s development.

Keywords: government; entity responsibilities; gender equality; women’s development

Gender equality and women’s development are eternal themes fin the human pursuit of equality, justice and fairness, as well as the benchmark for measuring the social progress of a county and an important goal for sustainable development.1 Women’s issues have become an important part of the solutions to the social economic and environment.al problems Promoting gender equality and women’s development is the responsibility of the whole of society. The government, assuming the main responsibility, plays a very important role. The Program of Action of the World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 proposed that while solving the mechanistic problems, the governments of all nations and other activists need to advocate a positive and clear-cut policy to incorporate gender perspectives into the mainstreaming of policies and plans in order to analyse the respective influence of the decisions on both genders, and also emphasize the gender analysis and planning and coordinate social and economic development with plans and policies formulated for women’s development to achieve equal rights, equal responsibilities, equal opportunities and equal participation between males and females.

Since the launch of reform and opening-up, under the influence of economic and social development and the trend of globalization, the nation has a clearer recognition of the positioning of the government’s functions. The 18th National Congress of the CPC further clarified the general direction of transforming the government’s functions which is to create a better development environment, provide quality services and safeguard social equity and justice2. During the functional transformation, the government has stronger awareness to shoulder and fulfill the responsibilities of promoting gender equality and women’s development. Especially with the promotion of the Beijing World Women Conference, the Chinese government has made gender equality as a basic State policy for social development. The Party and our country, based on the basic national situation a, has strengthened the top-down design, and systematic plan and established systems and mechanisms to promote women’s development, and advocate the coordinated development of the cause of women’s equality a in order to make historic achievements and write a glorious Chinese chapter in the history of global women’s movement.

I. The Theories for the Government to Fulfill Its Responsibilities to Promote the All-round Development of Women

Women’s development is an important part of the cause of the Party and the people, which is the most fundamental basis for the government to advance women’s development and fulfill their responsibilities for promoting gender equality and women’s development.

A. The basic functions of government determine its responsibilities

Government functions refer to the functions and responsibilities the government, as the law enforcement institution of State administration, needs to shoulder while regulating national political, economic and social public affairs. Government functions are decided by the nature of the government, which is decided by that of the nation as well. China, as a socialist country under the people’s democratic dictatorship, decides that the government is the people’s government, whose role is to serve people and to execute policies on behalf of people in order to safeguard people’s interests. Therefore, being responsible to the people and safeguarding people’s legal rights are the basic functions, principles and stances of the government. As emphasized by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee: “Serving the people is the fundamental principle of our Party, as well as the fundamental principle for governments at all levels. No matter how the functions change, the principle of serving the people can’t change. The Government should insist on people-oriented policies and governing for the people, keep connected to the people, think for the people, solve the problems and concerns of the people, govern the country while serving the people in governance.”3 Women, who accounts for the half of the population, are an important part of the people. Therefore, from the perspective of safeguarding the legitimate rights of citizens and serving the people, safeguarding women’s legitimate interests and rights, protecting and promoting women’s development and serving women are basic functions and responsibilities of the government.

The women’s cause is to promote social progress. According to Marxism, women are great human resource, creators of material and spiritual civilization and an important power for social development. Comrade Xi has elaborated on the dialectical relations between women and economic social development many times, emphasizing the important role of women. He has pointed out that women are a great force for the progress of human civilization. Without progress in the women’s cause, there won’t be progress for the whole society. Without the active participation of women around the world, it’s impossible to achieve the sustainable development of human society.4 “Encourage women to participate in social and economic activities can effectively improve women’s status and improve social productivity and economic vitality.”5 Gender inequality is not only am obstacle for the all-round development of women, but also social harmony and progress. Therefore, from the perspective of promoting economic and social development, encouraging gender equality and promoting the all-round development of women are important duties for the government.

B. Government’s responsibilities are important duties endowed by law

China’s Constitution stipulates that: “the country protects women’s rights and interests and ensures men and that women should enjoy equal pay for equal work.” Among the 61 articles of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women amended in 2005, over 40 conditions directly or indirectly stipulate the government’s responsibilities and specify that the people’s government at all levels should emphasize and strengthen the protection of women’s rights and interests; institutions in the people’s government above county level responsible for work related to women and children should take charge of organizing, coordinating, directing and monitoring relevant departments to protect women’s rights. Relevant departments in the people’s government above the county level should protect women’s rights and interests according to their own responsibilities; the State Council is responsible for formulating the Program for Women’s Development in China and including it in the national economic and social development plan; the people’s governments above county level is in charge of formulating the program for women’s development in their administrative zones according to the Program for the Development of Women in China and including them into the national economic and social development plan. These rules have been embodied in the mechanism for protecting women’s rights and interests and the people’s governments at all levels should shoulder their responsibilities. Therefore, it is an important responsibility endowed by the law for the government to be the entity responsible for protecting the legitimate rights and interests of women and promoting their development.

C. The Government’s growing awareness of shouldering its responsibilities

In 2013, Comrade Xi Jinping pointed out in the Second Plenary Meeting of the Second Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC that “Our recognition and positioning of the Government’s functions are developing along with the reform and opening-up and the socialist market economy”, “Our Party is deepening our understanding of the questions in practice and makes continuous efforts to transform government’s functions.”6 Likewise, although the Chinese government always attaches great importance to the development of the women’s cause, the government’s understanding of its responsibilities for promoting gender equality and women’s development is being gradually deepened. The understanding is developing along with reform and opening-up and socialist modern construction and enhanced amid the process of deepening administrative system reform and the transformation of government functions.

In 1980, during the second World Women Conference, the Chinese government signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and made a promise to the international society to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and ensure that women enjoy equal rights with men, which shows that the Chinese government has realized the government needs to shoulder the responsibility for promoting women’s development. In 1988, the sixth Chinese Women’s Congress defined the Women’s Federation as a social group where women of all ethnic groups in all walks of life unite together for further liberation under the leadership of the CPC as well as the bridge connecting the party and the government with women. This shows that the relations between the government and women’s work have been further affirmed.

Since the beginning of 1990s, as the planned economy has transformed into a socialist market economy, especially under the influence of the opening of the fourth World Women Conference in Beijing in 1995, opinions about the mainstreaming of gender equality have become prevalent. The government has become increasingly aware that it is the entity responsible for promoting women’s development. For example, in 1990, the National Working Coordination Committee on Women and Children under the State Council was established and in 1993, for the first time, the Government Work Report put forward to “care about women and children”. After 1995, the Government Work Report has repeatedly put forward to support the work of organizations such as the Women’s Federation. On June 29th, 1998, Wu Yi, then director of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council proposed in aa speech to the plenary session held every three terms that the governments’ sense of being the responsible entity be strengthened, and pointed out that liberating and protecting women, protecting children and their healthy growth are important parts of the Party’s and nation’s revolution and construction. The government is responsible for undertaking the work of women and children and regarding them as an important and glorious task.7 It shows the awareness of the Party and government that they must be the responsible entities has been enhanced.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, especially since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, in the process of transforming government’s functions into “creating a sound development environment and providing quality public services, and maintaining social equity and justice”, the government’s awareness of shouldering the main responsibility for women’s development has been increasingly enhanced. In 2000, protecting women’s legitimate rights and interests and promoting women’s development were listed among the main tasks of the government. For the first time, the State Council’s government work report mentioned “implementing the Program for Chinese Women’s and Children’s Development”. In 2001, it for the first time mentioned taking practical measures to protect women’s legitimate rights and interests. Later, developing women’s and children’s causes, implementing the “two programs” (Chinese Women’s Development Program and Chinese Children’s Development Program), protecting women’s and children’s legitimate rights and interests, and improving maternal and child health care services have been frequently mentioned in Government Work Reports. In addition, the director of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, assumed by a State Councillor before 2013, was assumed by the Vice Premier of the State Council after 2013. In 2015, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized at the Party’s working conference of people’s organizations that Party committees and governments at all levels should create favourable conditions for the work of people’s organizations, provide necessary human resources, financial support and material supplies, and attach importance to solve the shortage of resources and methods for people’s organization’s work, especially the shortage of personnel at the grassroots level, integrate efforts in developing front construction, project planning, resource use, power allocation, etc., 8which fully reflects that the Party and the government attach great importance to the work on women and children.

II. The Methods of the Government and Its Performance As the Responsible Entity

Since the launch of reform and opening up, the Chinese government, through fulfilling the international commitment of improving gender equality and women’s development, making strategic plans and deployments, and establishing national institutions and mechanism, takes an active role in implementing the entity responsibilities of developing women’s causes and promoting the full implementation of the basics State policy of gender equality, and advance gender equality and the all-round development of women.

A. Fulfill the international commitments and implement the basic state policy of gender equality

Participating in the formulation and signing of the international documents for equality between men and women and women’s development and fulfilling international commitments are one of the important ways for governments to fulfill their responsibilities. At the second World Women Conference held in 1980, the Chinese government participated in formulating the program of action in the five years after the “United Nations Decade for Women” and signed an important international convention concerning women’s rights, that is, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) . China made commitments to the international society that the Chinese government will take all measures to eliminate discrimination against women and safeguard women’s rights. China became one of the first signatories. In the third United Nations World Women Conference held in 1985, the Chinese government participated to formulate and revise the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategy for the Advancement of Women by 2000. The Beijing Declaration and Program of Action was passed at the fourth World Women Conference held in Beijing in 1995, and the strategic goals and policy framework to promote gender equality and safeguard women’s rights was agreed. At the conference, the Chinese government took an active role in the formulation of the Beijing Declaration and Program of Action and became one of the first 49 countries to commit to gender mainstreaming. In the opening ceremony of the fourth United Nations World Women Conference, the Chinese government proclaimed solemnly to the international society that China will take gender equality as a basic State policy to promote the social development of our country. The Chinese government always attaches great importance to gender equality and in 1990, it formally ratified the Convention Concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value released by the International Labor Organization. In 2000 and 2015, the Chinese government signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in succession and promised China will achieve the millennium goals of the United Nations, which include gender equality among the sustainable development goals.

The Chinese government fulfills its international commitments in earnest. The government submits reports at regular intervals on the implementation of the CE-DAW. Until now, China has submitted eight implementation reports; the State Council published White Papers on the Rights of Women in 1994, 2005 and 2015 respectively and made an overall conclusion about Chinese policies and measures adopted in implementing the basic state policy of gender equality, promoting gender equality and women’s development and the progress that has been made. In September 2015, the Chinese government and the United Nations co-held the Global Women Summit. President Xi Jinping hosted the summit and delivered an important speech. He proposed to develop the cause of women in step with developing the economy and society, and take active actions to protect women’s rights and interests and make efforts to build harmonious and inclusive social culture. He put forward four proposals that aim to create a favourable international environment for women’s development, made a global proposal that is to advocate the spirit of the World Women Conference held in Beijing, restate the commitments and accelerate the development of promoting equality between men and women and women’s all-round development. China made commitments to the whole world that “it will take an active role in implementing the basic State policy of equality between men and women and give full play to women’s “half-heaven” role and support women to build their career and achieve their ideals and dreams”,9 which shows China’s determination and stance on implementing the basic national policies of gender equality and promoting the development of the cause of women.

B. Include promoting gender equality and women’s development into the national development strategy

We should include the cause of women’s development into the national overall development plans and programs of action. From the beginning of implementing the tenth national economic and social development plan and program, the Government takes more efforts to make programs for women’s development. The third section “Develop Other Social Security Careers” of the eighth chapter “Actively expand employment and improve the Social Security System” of the “10th Five-Year Plan”, puts forward “implementing the development program for the development of women and children and safeguard the legitimate rights of women and juveniles.” The 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) has a special section on protecting the rights and interests of women and children (Chapter 38, “do the works on population well and in an all-round way”, Section IV), and proposes to “implement the basic State policy of gender equality and implement the women’s development program to ensure women’s equal access to school, employment, social security, marital property and social affairs, develop the cause of women’s health care, poverty alleviation, labor protection and legal aid, etc. Adhere to the principle of children’s priority, implement the development pro-gram for children program, and protect Children’s rights to subsistence, development, protection and participation. Improve children’s growth environment, develop children’s physical and mental health, and improve the surgical rehabilitation of orphans and disabled children, the family foster care investment and AIDS orphans rescue mechanism.” The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) has separate chapters on women and children and a special section on promoting the all-round development of women (Section 2 of Chapter 16 to “finish works on population in an all-round way”). It proposes to “implement the basic State policy of gender equality, implement women’s development program, fully develop women’s human resources, protect women’s legitimate rights and interests, encourage women’s employment and entrepreneurship, and increase women’s involvement in the economic development and social management. We should strengthen women’s labor protection, social welfare, health care, poverty alleviation and legal aid, improve the gender demographics system, improve women’s development environment, and crack down on illegal and criminal activities such as violence against women and women trafficking.” The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) has a special chapter on protecting the basic rights and interests of women, minors and the disabled and special section on promoting women’s all-round development which shows the adherence to the basic State policy of gender equality and makes deployments for protecting the rights and interests of women with more abundant content, clearer goals, and more effective measures.

We should formulate and implement the National Program of Action for Women’s Development — the Development Program for China’s Women. On the eve of the Beijing World Conference on Women in 1995, the State Council formulated the first government program dedicated to women’s development in Chinese history. That was the Development Program for China’s Women (1995-2000), which shows China’s national will to promote gender equality. Then, China published and implemented new versions of the Development Program of China’s Women from 2001 to 2010 and the Development Program of China’s Women from 2011 to 2020. These documents specify the tasks the general goals for women’s development in different phases. The latest program, the Development Program of China’s Women (2011-2020), set the general goals for women’s development as including social-sexual awareness into the legal system and public policies, promoting the all-round development of women and promoting the harmonious development of both genders and promoting women’s development in step with the economy and society; It specifies the main goals and measures and strategies in seven priority areas, namely women and the economy, women’s participation in decision-making and management, women and education, women and health, women and social security, women and the law, women and the environment, and promoting gender equality in law in reality. To effectively implement the Women’s Development Program, the relevant departments of the State Council and local governments at all levels have formulated implementation plans for the program and local women’s development programs. Up to now, 31 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) have formulated regional women’s development programs, and a top-down program system for women’s development has come into being. The Central Government and local governments have increased their investment in the program every year to provide financial support for its implementation. The government has also established quantified indicators for the objective and scientific monitoring and evaluation of the program’s implementation. At present, a working system with formulation, implementation, and monitoring at its core has taken shape.

We should pay attention to equality between men and women and women’s development issues in national special development plans. Special development plans like the National Human Rights Action Plan of China, China’s Action Plan against Human Trafficking, National Medium and Long-Term Talent Development Plan and Program, National Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development Plan and Program, the Plan and Program of the 12th Five-Year Plan for Health Care Development, and the Poverty Alleviation Program in Rural China, the National Plan and Program for Children Development in Poor Area are included in gender equality objectives. For example, women’s rights have been specially listed in three versions of National Human Rights Action Plan of China published since 2009, and stipulated the degree of women’s participation in the management of State and social affairs, the protection of women’s economic rights, health rights, marriage and family rights, access to education, and resistance to domestic violence. The 2009-2010 National Human Rights Action Plan of China stipulates that there must be more than one female member in the people’s congresses, the CPPCC and people’s governments at all levels; and over 50 percent of State, provincial (autonomous regions, municipalities) and city (prefecture committees) must have female leaders. The National Medium and Long-Term Talent Development Plan (2010-2020) takes “attaching importance to the selection, cultivation, education and training of female cadres” into the main tasks of talents development, and includes improving the gender structure of talents as strategic goals. The Plan for Poverty Alleviation in Rural China (2011-2020) regards rural poor women as key poverty alleviation population, and requires including women’s poverty alleviation and development into the plan and be implemented synchronously, placing them in priority under the same conditions, and increase support. All fully reflect the government’s main responsibility to promote gender equality and women’s development, and provide a powerful institutional guarantee for women’s all-round development.

C. Establish and develop a sound national mechanism for women’s development

A sound national mechanism for gender equality and women’s all-round develop-ment is an important sign to judge whether the country really attaches importance to promote gender equality and the women’s development and the government is shoul-dering its responsibilities. In the last 40 years since reform and opening-up, the Chi-nese government has paid more attention to improving the mechanism for women’s development.

The first method was to establish a government organ for women’s development. In 1990, the National Working Coordination Committee on Children and Women under State Council was set up. In 1993, it changed its name to the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, constituted by relevant government departments, central departments and leaders in tat the ministerial level. The director was a leader from the State Council. The institutes are equipped with offices, full-time staff, and special working funds. The number of members grew from 19 at the beginning to 35 now. Governments at county levels or above in 31 provinces across the country have established corresponding institutions, led by leaders of the same level and clarified the duties of all member units, forming a multi-dimensional and well-coordinated network for promoting gender equality and women’s development. The establishment of Women and Children Committee in the State Council and Women and Children Committee in the governments at all levels further clarifies that the government is the responsible entity for work on women and children .

The second one was to establish a sound and scientific working mechanism. Supported by the Women’s Federation, a government-leading, multi-sectoral cooperated and whole-society participating working mechanism for women and children was gradually established and promoted. In order to drive the implementation of the “two plans”, the working committees of women and children at all levels established a target-oriented responsibility system and mechanism for monitoring and appraising the implementation of the two plans, assigned the women’s development tasks to relevant departments and included them into relevant special plans for implementation and included them into the targets of responsible member departments and evaluation system. Meanwhile, annual monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the plans, the midterm monitoring and evaluation and final conclusion and appraisal are required to ensure that the targets of the plan will be achieved on schedule; the State Council and governments at all levels should open working conferences about women and children on schedule to view and conclude the achievements and experiences made in advancing the rights of women and children’s and undertake research and deployment on the next period of women’s and children’s work. Since 1996, the State Council has organized national women and children working conferences six times; the Party committees and governments at all levels have explored and implemented a multi-sectoral cooperation mechanism/joint-meeting system to give full play to the synergy effects of overall planning, complementary advantages and social interaction with divided duties and close cooperation. The system is conducive to centralizing superior resources, solving obstacles of gender equality and women’s development. Its functions are increasingly prominent in promoting gender equality and women’s development.

The third one is to improve the appraisal mechanism of gender equality through laws and policies. In order to promote gender equality and women’s development at the source and provide a solid mechanism for the protection of women’s rights, in 2012, the Women’s Federation in Jiangsu Province, cooperating with the Ministry of Justice, established an Advisory and Evaluation Committee on Policies and Regulations of Gender Equality and established the first local evaluation mechanism for laws and policies of gender equality for the first time. Then, provinces across China explored the establishing of Advisory and Evaluation Committees on Policies and Regulations of Gender Equality suited to their local situations. According to the principle of gender equality and technical standards, the committees appraise whether the formulation, implementation, effects, and influence directly or indirectly have different effect on men and women and make necessary adjustments in the process of the formulation and implementation of policies and laws in order to avoid systemic gender discrimination caused by improper regulations of laws and policies and help both male and female can get equal benefits and coordinated development from laws, regulations and policies. Until the end of 2015, around 16 provinces had established gender equality appraisal committees and the number had reached 29 by the first half of 2018. The Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee,Legal Affairs Office of the State Council, National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council and the All-China Women’s Federation have all played an active role in increasing the coverage of the Advisory and Evaluation Committee on Policies and Regulations of Gender Equality and explored establishing the Advisory and Evaluation Committee on Policies and Regulations of Gender Equality at national level.

The fourth one was to explore and establish gender statistics and a gender budget system. At the end of 1980s, China started to introduce gender statistics and established a comprehensive statistics system for women’s development step by step to regulate the women’s development statistics index and gender statistics index. At present, a statistics and monitoring system on the situation of women has been established at the national and provincial (autonomous region and municipality) levels, and regional and departmental comprehensive statistics reports and a system of regular submission for review and evaluation have been set up and systems for the periodic planning and publishing of statistics about men’s and women’s situation have been put into effect. In 1995, 1999, 2004, 2007 and 2012, the National Statistics Bureau edited and published editions of Women and Men in Chinese Society: Data and Facts. Since 2008, it has published Statistics about Chinese Women and Children every year. Since 1990, the All-China Women’s Federation and National Statistics Bureau have conducted a survey on the social status of women in China every 10 years and collected statistics according to gender from various fields and women. Local governments are actively exploring a gender budget system and establishing a fund-supported system for women’s development. The fund of the Working Committee on Children and Women at all levels is included in the financial budget of the government at the same level. The working expenditure of the Women’s Federation is also included in the financial bud-get with the standard that each woman has at least 1 yuan. Many local governments provide far more than 1 yuan and some even provide 6 yuan, providing steady financial support for women’s development. In 2009, Jiaozuo in Henan Province published the first government document related to gender budgets – Trial Measures for Budget Management of the governments at the corresponding levels about Social Gender Response in Jiaozuo. Such attempts to implement the gender budgets were also being made in Wenling, Zhejiang Province.

D. Adopt specific measures and special actions to promote women’s development

The governments not only encourage gender equality and women’s development from the perspective of macro-systems and mechanisms they also adopt specific measures and special actions to solve prominent problems targeting various groups and regions of women or in the process of women’s development. They make real efforts to help women’s development, such as supporting women’s employment and entrepreneurship, providing favourable policies such as vocational training subsidies, micro-guaranteed loans, financial interest subsidy policies, tax reductions, exemptions, etc. For example, since 2009, more than 220.6 billion in subsidized micro loans have been granted to women, which has fostered and motivated millions of women to start businesses and gain employment.10 In the field of public health care services, the government implements national basic public health care service projects and major public health service projects, greatly improving the quality of basic public health care services for women, and providing more health security for women. For example, since 2000, the National Working Committee for Women and Children under the State Council, the National Health Commission, and the Ministry of Finance jointly organized and implemented a project to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate neonatal tetanus. Since 2009, the National Health Commission, the Ministry of Finance, and the All-China Women’s Federation have begun to implement rural women’s cervical cancer and breast cancer screening programs nationwide; and implemented major projects to prevent AIDS, syphilis and the prevention of hepatitis B mother-to-child transmission. The investment also witnesses a continuous increase. For example, in 1990, the State invested 305 million yuan in maternal and child health care, and in 1999 the amount increased to 1.046 billion yuan, and in 2003 further increased to 1.579 billion yuan.11 These measures have effectively solved the most concerned, direct and realistic interests of women.

III. Discussion and Reflection

Reports of the 12th National Congress of Chinese Women pointed out taking gender equality as a basic State policy for social development and regarding wom-en’s development as an important part of national economic social development plan are unique creations of CPC with distinct Chinese characteristics. The reviews above show that the advantages of unique system and mechanism in China fully demonstrate the benefits of reform in the women’s development. Gender equality and women’s all-round development have integrated the will of the ruling party with the country’s governance strategy, made historic progress from government commitments to legislative protection. In the past 40 years, the Chinese government has adhered to the constitutional principle of gender equality, actively shouldered the main responsibility of achieving gender equality and women’s development, and adopted gender equality as a basic State policy for national and social development, considered the differences between men and women and the special interests of women while passing laws, for-mulating policies, and making regulations and deployments, helped women perform democratic rights by laws, participate in economic and social development, and enjoy achievements in reform and development on an equal footing. The development of women’s rights in China has been recognized by the world and produced a wonderful Chinese women’s story.

China has entered a new era, but women still face many problems and challenges. For example, women have stronger expectations for a happy life but unbalanced and inadequate development is still prominent. The outdated ideas and social customs that discriminate against women still exist. Development between rural and urban areas and regional areas remain unbalanced. The resources for the protection of women and services for women in rural areas, especially the poor areas, remain scarce. Vio-lations of women’s legitimate rights and interests still frequently occur. Therefore, the task of advancing gender equality and women’s development remains daunting. Under the circumstance of making coordinated efforts to implement the strategic layout of the “five in one” and “four comprehensive” strategic layout, further implementing the basic State policy of gender equality and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of women and children still requires the government to further fulfill its function and shoulder its responsibilities as the responsible entity.

A. Further enhance the top-down design and make overall plans

The government should fully play its role as the responsible entity for women’s development and be the leader, by drawing up a plan for ensuring women’s rights under the overall framework of social development. The government should make great efforts to discuss major events, control the overall situation and set long-term goals, make a top-down design and provide macro-guidance. The government should further improve the mechanism for the protection, of women’s rights, strengthen the policy guarantee and environmental support for gender equality and women’s development.

B. Further enhance the construction of women’s development institution

At present, the National Working Committee on Women and Children under the State Council, as the coordinating institution for work relating to women and children, plays an important role in coordinating and promoting the relevant department’s implementation of laws, regulations and policies on women and children and developing the cause of women and children. However, the National Working Committee on Women and Children under the State Council is merely a coordination institution. As pointed out by Peng Xianyun, director of the National Working Committee on Women and Children under the State Council, the working committee on women and children, as a coordination agenda, does not replace other departments but rather coordinates the departments to finish work that needs joint efforts. This determines that the authority of the National Working Committee on Women and Children under the State Council will be reduced in actual work. Therefore, if the National Working Committee on Women and Children under the State Council wants to work better, it should be endowed with more power and resources or the government should appoint a commissioner for gender equality and inspectors and establish a coordination institution so that promoting gender equality and women’s developments becomes mainstream works for the government departments.

C. Offer preferential policies to address the real problems related to women’s development

The new trend and changes in economic and social development bring new challenges and problems to work related to women’s rights. Deepening supply-side structural reform raises new requirements for women’s work. At this new historic juncture, the government should safeguard women’s rights and provide services to them to make them feel warmer and make constant efforts to implement projects such as providing secured loans for women entrepreneurs and free examination and aid for the “two cancers” of rural women, through expanding the coverage and increasing the rate of beneficiary. Expanding the coverage of “Great life: women’s life-long learning program” to wider fields and providing a better service platform for women’s growth and training. The governments should do more research to understand the respective needs of different groups of women, especially the needs of special groups and families such as migrant women and children, poor women and children, sick women and children, single mothers, and elderly women. Include the problems women report and are most concerned about in the government’s plans for improving people’s livelihoods. Make active efforts to explore the public service functions suitable for the Women’s Federation to shoulder and direct women’s social organizations to participate in government procurement, make use of women and children charity organizations to gather more social assistance. Numerous measures can be used to solve women’s and children’s problems to ensure they enjoy happy lives.

D. Further enhance the construction and publication of advanced gender culture and build a harmonious social atmosphere

General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out in his report to the 19th National Congress of the CPC: “Culture is the essence of a country and a nation. Culture rejuvenates the country and culture strengthens the country”; “The socialist core values are the epitome of the contemporary Chinese spirit, and condense the common value pursuits for all people.” In the 40 years of reform and opening-up, China’s socialist culture has prospered, and China’s ideological and cultural construction has made great achievements. The socialist core values and Chinese outstanding traditional culture have been widely carried forward. The advanced gender culture with gender equality as its core is not only the necessary elements of the socialist core values, but also the cultural guarantee for the ultimate realization of gender equality and women’s all-round development. In the past 40 years, the awareness of gender equality in the whole of society has been further improved, and the cultural environment for women’s development has further improved. However, discrimination and prejudice against women still exist. Phenomena such as discriminatory words against women, the derogating women’s image, over-consuming women in a vulgar way, solidifying women’s traditional role in the family, or spreading the feudal and harmful in the guise of reviving Chinese literature and traditional culture remain prevalent, especially with the rapid development of we-media, those misconceptions and harmful culture against basic national policies of gender equality and support of discrimination against women result in very negative social impact. After the 12th National Congress of Chinese Women, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out in an important speech during the talks with the new leaders of the All-China Women’s Federation that solving these problems should start at the national level and the leadership is determined to crack down on crimes that infringe women’s rights and interests and criticize and refute the wrong speech in time. At the 2015 Global Women’s Summit, President Xi Jinping eloquently emphasized: “The world is both for men and women. We must make efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence. We must, with gender equality as its core, break the backward concepts and traditional regulations and customs that hinder women’s development.

To conclude, over the last 40 years, the government has truly shouldered its pri-mary responsibility to promote gender equality and women’s development, fully fulfilled its commitments to ensure gender equality, implemented the basic State policy of gender equality, established an institution in the government to improve the status of women and made continuous efforts to increase the institution’s authority, influence and efficiency, making great progress in the mainstreaming of gender equality. The government integrates gender equality and women’s development with the overall cause of the Party and the country and formulates scientific and reasonable development strategy, making gender equality fully presented in legislation, policy making, the formulation of plans and deployments and fully reflected in every sector of economic and social development and every aspect of social life. The government ensures that the development can benefit billions of women and give every one of them the opportunities to live a brilliant life and realize their dreams.
 

(Translated by LI Man)
 

* FAN Hongxia ( 范红霞 ), Associate Researcher in Women’s Studies Institute of China.

** JIANG Xiuhua ( 姜秀花 ), Deputy Director and Researcher in Women’s Studies Institute of China.

1. The State Council Information Office, “Chinese Gender Equality and Women Development,” People’s Daily, September 23, 2015.

2. Hu Jintao, “A Report in the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China about Moving Forward Unswervingly along the Socialist Path with Chinese Characteristics and Strive for a Moderately Prosperous Society. (September 8, 2012)”, People’s Daily, September 9, 2012.

3. Xi Jinping, “Speech in the Second Plenary Meeting of the Second Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of the CPC (Feb. 28th, 2013),” in An Extract of Xi Jinping’s Speeches on Socialist Political Construction, ed. Literature Research Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2017), 113.

4. Xi Jinping, “Speech in the Opening Ceremony of International Forum about Women and Sustainable Development (September 9, 2011),” People’s Daily, September 10, 2011.

5. Xi Jinping, Speech in the Global Women Summit about Encouraging the All-round Development of Women to Share and Enjoy the Beautiful World (September 27, 2015), People’s Daily, September 28, 2015.
 
6. Xi Jinping, “An Extract of Xi Jinping’s Speeches on Socialist Political Construction,” 109.

7. Office of the All-China Women’s Federation, “Wu Yi’s speech at the Third Plenary Session of the State Council Working Committee on Women and Children (June 29, 1998)”, in Anthology of Women and Children Works since the Seventh National People’s Congress (September 1993 – June 1998) (Beijing: China Women’s Publishing House, 1998), 96.

8. Xi Jinping, “Speech in the Conference of People’s Organizations in Central Party Committee (July 6, 2015)”, in Anthology of Xi Jinping’s Discussions about Works on Women, Children and Women’s Federation, ed. All-China Women’s Federation (Beijing: China Women’s Publishing House, 2018), 102.
 
9. Xi Jinping, “An Extract of Xi Jinping's Speeches on Socialist Political Construction,” 109.

10. The State Council Information Office, “Chinese Gender Equality and Women Development,” People’s Daily, September 23, 2015.

11. Ibid.

 

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