China’s Communist Get together at 100: The place are the ladies? | Politics Information
A hundred years after the secret establishment of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aboard a ship in Shanghai, China is a radically different world from the one the party sought to overthrow in 1921.
People are richer, have fewer children, and more job opportunities than their ancestors could have imagined.
But in the midst of upheaval, one thing remains the same.
Men continue to dominate political power.
There were no women in Shanghai on that day, and women’s rights were not specifically mentioned, despite the fact that they were part of the Chinese “New Culture Movement” and the May 4, 1919 protests that inspired CCP leaders should prove to be in the air.
At the CCP’s last National Congress in 2017 – held every five years – only 83 out of 938 elite women, or less than 10 percent total, were San Diego, according to the University of California’s China Data Lab.
Most of the women were found on the provincial standing committee and became scarcer with each level of power until she reached Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan, the only woman among the men in the 25-member Politburo.
There is not a single woman in the party’s most elite inner circle, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee.
No party for the youth
The absence of women is in part a dynamic of party membership and individual advancement. Women make up only about a quarter of the membership today, and once in they are often directed into less competitive positions than their male counterparts.
Vice Prime Minister Sun Chunlan is the only woman among the men in the 25-person Politburo and the woman who has climbed the highest in the CCP [File: Wu Hong/EPA]In other words, they lose from the start.
“There is likely a man-friendly bias about recruiting only party members, and there is a pro-male bias about putting men or women in important positions,” said Victor Shih, associate professor at UCSD’s School of Public Policy.
“Police, internet censorship, military are very important and tend to be male dominated specializations. Women are typically used in education, United Front (propaganda), and social policy. You can get to a pretty high level in such specializations, but you don’t see that much of a quick path to the top, ”he said.
To rise in the ranks, party members must meet certain milestones in order to qualify for elite positions. Most of China’s top politicians have served as governor or party secretary of a province or major city, but there are only a handful of women in these positions and therefore there are few female candidates who are suitable for the senior positions.
By the time they are ready for a top position, many of the women will have already retired – for women in China it is just 55 years.
“It’s not like the US where 45-year-old Barack Obama or JFK can run for office,” said Richard McGregor, author of The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers. “You move up through the ranks in a very structured way and retire in a very structured way. It is very rare to join the Politburo before you are 55 years old. That means that despite this tremendous track record in promoting women, it’s very difficult to correct. “
Contingents not reached
While 10 percent of management positions at the provincial, municipal and district level should be reserved for women, quotas are seldom adhered to due to a deep-seated preference for men, says Valarie Tan, an analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Germany.
Beyond institutional hurdles, Tan says, women often face unspoken cultural prejudices and a state-sponsored drive for traditional gender norms, which have picked up pace under President Xi Jinping’s leadership as China faces declining birth rates.
“The gender stereotypes or the historical norms of transmission are still very much present today. Under Xi Jinping, I would say even more that the expectation is that at some point women will get married, take care of the children, grow old and take care of grandchildren, ”said Tan.
Analysts say Chinese women face cultural prejudice and continued official support for traditional gender norms that prevent them from rising to the top echelons of the ruling party [Noel Celis/AFP]Party members make up 37.5 percent of the village and neighborhood level committees, but that number is falling to leadership positions, according to ChinaFile, the online magazine of the Asia Society’s Center for US-China Relations.
Women occupy only 9.33 percent of the offices at the county level as heads of government or party secretaries, while in the cities they fall to 5.29 percent and at the provincial level to 3.23 percent.
“As a woman, you just don’t have the resources to do other things outside of the home,” Tan said. “On the demand side, those in power simply do not want women to occupy higher political leadership positions because that would threaten the status quo and patriarchy.”
Right in the name
Despite the party’s “revolutionary” rhetoric, which has historically included stories about model workers, feminism has always been subordinate to the political and economic ambitions of the organization, explains Linda Jaivin, author of The Shortest History of China.
“The party has promoted the idea from the beginning that women are strong and must be given certain rights so that they can be part of the communist project like men,” said Jaivin.
Indeed, one of the most widely attributed quotes to the People’s Republic of China’s founding father, Chairman Mao Zedong – “Women hold half the sky” – was not an inspired appeal for women’s rights, but rather, triggered by an enlarged collective economy in 1953, its productivity tripled after giving women the same “Working points” as given to men.
While Chinese women have received “nominal egalitarianism” since the beginning of the Mao era, older practices including gender-based violence and, later, the preference for male children under the one-child policy remained beneath the surface. China has 34.9 million more men than women today, according to the latest census report.
When China shifted to market reforms and opened up its economy in the 1980s, practices that were believed to have been largely wiped out, including cohabitation or “mistress culture,” returned, and prostitution returned.
Mao Zedong (right) with his fellow revolutionaries at the end of the long march in 1938. His comment “Women hold up half the sky” should involve them more economically in the communist project [File: AP Photo]Discussions about feminism and sexual harassment are now censored on the Internet, and the party has also made divorces more difficult – with a new mandatory “cooling-off period” also in the case of domestic violence. Other problems, such as unequal pay, also persist.
Jaivin said this is because men in the party are unwilling to give up power and are therefore pursuing policies to maintain the status quo.
“The CCP likes to talk about strong, successful women contributing to the nation, and the party and state media may introduce female delegates to the National People’s Congress, but few women have serious power and none have served in the highest government agency. of the Politburo Standing Committee, and you cannot talk about the structural issues holding back women that some of the really serious feminists in China would like to talk about, ”said Jaivin. “Basically, it’s about patriarchal rulers not wanting to share power.”
Still, the problems faced by women in China are far from unusual in East Asia. The archenemy Japan has been described as “democracy without women,” while in South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, men still have more women in politics, even though all three had female leaders.
In the social field, gender biases persist across the region, said Lynette Ong, associate professor at the Institute of Political Science and the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto. In some ways, Chinese women are still better off in urban areas than their neighbors in South Korea and Japan, where women are under pressure to quit their jobs after having children, cutting them off from their careers and any possible entry into politics.
“I would say it’s all relative – women may not enjoy the same status as men in China, but they are better off than when the PRC was founded. And compared to the status of women in other Confucian societies such as Japan, South Korea, women in China, especially in the big cities, arguably enjoy a better status, mainly because they were “liberated” by Chairman Mao, “Ong said.
Liberated or not, Chinese women have a long way to go before they hold half of political heaven.