Gender Equality and Women’s Development in China

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China’s national mechanism for promoting the status of women, fully utilizing government resources and effectively mobilizing social resources, lays an important foundation for promoting gender equality and women’ s development. Over the past two decades, the mechanism has been constantly improved to allow it to play an increasingly prominent role.

The state has kept improving government organs for promoting the status of women. In 1990, the State Council established the National Working Committee on Children and Women (NWCCW), which has been commissioned the responsibilities to organize, coordinate, guide, supervise and urge departments concerned in promoting gender equality and women’s development. Composed of leading ministerial-level members from relevant government organs, the Committee is chaired by a member of the State Council leadership. Over the previous 20 years, the Committee has expanded its member units from 19 to 35, now including government organs such as the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Civil Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Ministry of Agriculture, and the National Health and Family Planning Commission, in addition to six mass organizations. The Committee has a general office doing day-to-day work by full-time staff with specially allocated funds. Relevant organizations have been set up under people’ s governments above the county level in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, forming a multi-dimensional and well-coordinated network for promoting gender equality and women’ s development.

The state has developed and implemented national plans and programs for promoting women’ s development. Women’s development was included in China’s 10th, 11th and 12th five-year plans for economic and social development, each time with greater emphasis, clearer goals, and more effective measures for promoting coordinated development between Chinese women and China’ s economy and society. The State Council has issued three programs covering different periods for the development of Chinese women, clearly defining the overall goals, key areas and policies and measures to be adopted for women’s development at different stages. People’s governments at and above the county level in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have worked out similar programs for women’s development for areas within their respective jurisdiction, thus forming a top-down framework for promoting women’ s development at all levels. Adopting the target management responsibility system, the working committees on children and women at various levels resolve and allocate the main targets to the related functional departments of the governments and see to it that they are included in corresponding plans and implemented. They also established an appraisal system and carried out assessments of the implementation results of the programs at the end of every year, and in the middle and at the end of the implementation of the programs, ensuring that the targets set in these programs were met as scheduled.

The state has established a working mechanism featuring leadership by the government, multi-departmental cooperation and participation of the whole of society. The State Council and local governments at various levels hold working meetings on children and women on a regular basis to discuss and make plans. Every year, the State Council and local working committees on children and women hold special meetings to hear reports from all their member units, analyze progress made in the implementation of the current program for women’ s development, and work out measures to address matters of pressing concern for the smooth implementation of the program. Guidance has been given to local governments in actively exploring the establishment of an assessment system of laws and policies related to gender equality, so as to provide at the source a solid institutional guarantee for promoting gender equality and women’ s development. The state supports the women’ s federation organizations in representing and safeguarding women’ s rights and promoting gender equality. As the organizational system of women’ s federations is better established, it has been playing an increasingly prominent role in conducting theoretical studies and carrying out publicity, education and training programs in relation to gender equality.

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