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Unique path reaps big gains in safeguarding women's rights
October 01,2020   By:Xinhua
BEIJING, Oct. 1, 2020 -- When Huang Qi enrolled in a law school in Shanghai in 1981, she was one of only eight female students in the 58-person class.
 
"The ratio of female students was even lower in other classes," recalled the 58-year-old, an associate professor at the school of law at Shanghai International Studies University. "We thought it was quite normal at that time as it was deemed a social convention that men always outnumbered women in studying law."
 
But when she came back to celebrate her 20th graduation anniversary, she found that more than half of the students were female in many classes.
 
"The sharp comparison convinces me that equality between men and women is no longer just a slogan," she said.
 
When Huang served as the president of the Shanghai Lawyeress Association in 2012, there were about 3,000 female lawyers in Shanghai. Now the number has reached nearly 12,500, about 42 percent of the total number of lawyers in the business hub.
 
The changes mirror the fruits of China's consistent and comprehensive efforts to promote equality between men and women and protect the rights and interests as well as well-rounded development of women with laws and policies.
 
The first law of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was the Marriage Law in 1950, which established gender equality between men and women and monogamy in the marriage system to fundamentally guarantee women's social and family status, according to Huang.
 
"The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women," enacted and implemented in 1992, was the first basic law in the country to promote equality between men and women and protect women's rights and interests.
 
It stipulates women's political rights, cultural and educational rights, labor rights, property rights, personal rights and marriage and family rights.
 
In 1995, the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing and has been credited with laying out 12 critical areas of concern that must be addressed to achieve gender equality.
 
"Exactly 25 years after the Beijing conference, the significance of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted is undimmed. The outcome of the Beijing conference remains the most comprehensive and transformative global agenda for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls," said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN undersecretary-general and executive director of UN Women.
 
WOMEN POWER SHINES IN NEW ERA
 
Women have played an irreplaceable role in every aspect of society -- politics, economics, science, education, social welfare and poverty alleviation, among others. In many sectors, women hold up "half the sky" and play their unique roles in the nation's socialist cause.
 
In China's battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic this year, women have shown their powerful will, professionalism, selfless devotion and great resilience alongside their male peers.
 
Official data shows that about 42,000 medics rushed to central China's Hubei Province, the hardest-hit region, to assist in combating the epidemic early this year. Among them, about 28,000 were women, accounting for two-thirds of the total.
 
Zhang Jixian, a female respiratory doctor in Wuhan, the provincial capital, has been hailed as the first doctor to alert the medical system of the novel coronavirus.
 
Guo Qin, 38, has been taking care of COVID-19 patients in Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University since the beginning of the epidemic. She was infected on the job due to insufficient protection. On Jan. 28, after receiving her blood results, nucleic acid tests and CT scan indicating full recovery, she immediately returned to work.
 
The emergency center Guo works at has a total of 76 medics, of which more than half are women.
 
"Women played a mainstay role in the anti-epidemic fight," said Guo. "In the race against time to rescue patients, we were all soldiers in white, and there was no gender difference on the frontline."
 
During Wuhan's lockdown, the emergency center she works for admitted more than 100 severe COVID-19 patients and treated more than 7,000 patients with fever. Guo was also awarded for her outstanding contribution in the anti-epidemic fight.
 
"I decided to enter nursing school because my aunt is also a doctor, and she always takes good care of all the family members," she said. "I've seen more and more prominent women over the past 15 years at the center. They are always leading the charge whenever they're needed."
 
In September, Chinese military medical scientist Chen Wei was awarded a national honorary title -- "The People's Hero" -- for her outstanding contributions to the country's fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. She has made major achievements in COVID-19-related basic research and development of vaccine and protective medicine.
 
Last year, eight people were awarded the Medal of the Republic, the country's highest honor for those who have made great contributions to the construction and development of the PRC. Two of them were women -- longtime national legislator Shen Jilan who passed away in June and Chinese scientist Tu Youyou, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for the discovery of artemisinin, a group of drugs used to combat malaria.
 
China has also guaranteed women's rights to participate in the administration of public affairs and social and economic development. In the 13th National People's Congress, the national legislature, female deputies account for about 24.9 percent of the total, a record high and 12.9 percentage points higher than the figure for the First NPC in 1954.
 
BETTER PROTECTION, BETTER LIFE
 
For Anipiguri Yumel and millions of Uygurs in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, having a job seemed a dream for many women even a decade ago.
 
About 10 years ago, Anipiguri Yumel, a native in south Xinjiang's Kashgar Prefecture, made a bold decision with her husband to join tens of millions of migrant workers that left their home in rural China to earn a better living in urban areas.
 
Back then, China has already experienced fast industrialization and urbanization after decades of reform and opening-up.
 
In 2014, the couple returned home with 80,000 yuan (about 11,730 U.S. dollars) and built a new house. Xinjiang, the country's largest cotton production base, took the development of the textile and clothing industry as a strategic measure to boost employment. Anipiguri Yumel found a job at a garment company in 2017 and was promoted as a team leader the next year, making 3,000 yuan a month.
 
As of November 2019, nearly 600,000 people worked at the weaving, clothing, home textiles, knitting and other sectors in Xinjiang, with the majority being women.
 
China is actively committed to poverty alleviation and development for poor women, with a series of policies and measures in economic development, employment and entrepreneurship, culture and education, social security and health care. Women account for about half of China's more than 700 million people who have been lifted out of poverty.
 
According to a 2019 white paper on the progress of women's causes in the past 70 years since the founding of the PRC, women account for 40 percent of the labor force in China. In 2017, there were 340 million working women, doubling the figure in 1978.
 
Meanwhile, Chinese women's education levels have lifted dramatically over the past seven decades, according to the white paper titled "Equality, Development and Sharing: Progress of Women's Cause in 70 Years Since New China's Founding," released by the State Council Information Office.
 
The illiteracy rate among females aged 15 and above dropped from 90 percent before 1949 to 7.3 percent in 2017.
 
The gender gap in the nine-year compulsory education has been basically eliminated. In 2017, the net primary school enrollment rates of boys and girls were both 99.9 percent, while the proportions of girls in primary schools and junior high schools were 46.5 percent and 46.4 percent, respectively.
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