China preserves gender equality, yet discrimination in the country is still inevitable. A woman has never been the president in the history of China. Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping showed himself as president in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. The Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee who was also present was made up of only men. Women have never even served on the Standing Committee, which mean women have never had any say in important decisions about running the country. Other surrounding countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Myanmar have all had women leaders in the past. Mao, one of China’s important political figures wanted to encourage women, but not let them go too far. Attitudes and views like Mao’s hold women in China back, and keep them from reaching their full potential.
But why is this? Why are women strongly discriminated against in China? Discrimination is widespread, even though China’s constitution enshrines gender equality. The retirement age for women is 50, while it is 60 for men, which means that women are perceived as physically less fit than men. Not only that, but the effect of this is less opportunities for women who are looking for advancement in Chinese politics, as politicians gain the most power in their near 60s. According to Leta Hong Fincher, the author of the upcoming book, Betraying Big Brother: China’s Feminist Resistance, “The government has no intention of doing anything substantive to improve female political representation,”
Successful female politicians remain rare, even when there are extremely intelligent like real estate maven Zhang Xin and tech entrepreneur Hu Weiwei. Unfortunately for the women who are deserving of a worthy position in government, the Chinese believe that women are held back by the emotional burden of love, of ‘family’ or children. Outspoken women are often not listened to or treated with respect. In fact, in 2015, a few Chinese feminist activists were accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” because these ladies tried to create a campaign against sexual harassment on public transportation.
The future for women in China does not look bright, as no significant change is expected within the next ten years. The reality is, females have never been able to play an important role in the history of China, and it will most likely stay that way at least for a long while due to the Chinese Culture and widespread discrimination.