V. Protection of Women
and Children's Rights


Sustained efforts have been made to promote and effectively protect Chinese women's rights in the political, economic, social, educational, marital, domestic and other spheres. The extent of Chinese women's involvement in the management of state and social affairs has markedly increased. The ratios of women deputies to the Ninth NPC and women members on the CPPCC Ninth National Committee have risen by 0.8 and 2 percentage points, respectively, as compared with the NPC and CPPCC National Committee of the last terms. At present, women civil servants account for one third of the country's total. Women hold leading posts in the Party committees and governments of 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, an increase of 46.47 percent over the figure five years ago. In the 668 cities of China, there are 463 women mayors and vice-mayors. Among the leaders of the federations of trade unions of each province, municipality and autonomous region, there are one to two chairwomen or vice-chairwomen.

The number of employed women has continuously grown, and their work involvement has become rational. By October 2000, the number of women employees had reached 330 million, accounting for 46.7 percent of the total number of employees in China. The employed women have tended to shift to tertiary industry from conventional industries. The ratio of women engaged in agriculture, and the extractive, manufacturing and building industries is declining, while the ratio in culture, education, science and technology, health care, finance, insurance, transportation, posts and telecommunications, state organs, mass organizations and other sectors, is increasing. Such a shift facilitates the comprehensive development of women in economic activities, since it is more suited to women's physiological characteristics. In 2000, a total of well over 40 million women in China's rural areas received agricultural high-tech training, five of whom won the "Prize for Women's Creativity in Rural Life" of the Women's World Summit Foundation.

Women's educational level has risen further. According to statistics, in recent years both the incremental extent of the length of education enjoyed by women above the age of 15 and the declining extent of their illiteracy rate are larger than men's, and the gap in the educational levels of the two sexes is further narrowing. In 2000, the average length of education enjoyed by women exceeded 6.5 years, and the length gap between adult men and women in this regard narrowed from 1.7 years in 1995 to less than 1.5 years. In the past few years, China has helped nearly three million illiterates each year to learn how to read and write, among whom 65 percent were women. By the end of 1999, the illiteracy rate of adult women was 21.6 percent, and the illiteracy rate of women between 15 and 45 years old was 7.2 percent. In the year 2000, the ratio of primary school attendance for girls throughout China reached 99.07 percent, almost equal to the 99.14 percent for boys. Female students in kindergartens, primary schools, vocational secondary schools, regular secondary schools, secondary normal schools, secondary technical schools and regular institutions of higher learning made up 46.08 percent, 47. 60 percent, 47.17 percent, 46.17 percent, 67.49 percent, 54.63 percent and 40.98 percent of the total number of students attending schools of the same kind, respectively. Among the nation 's professionals, more than 110 million were women, constituting 40.6 percent of the total, or an increase of 14.8 percent over 1995. Among those female professionals, 3.263 million and 436,000 have professional titles of middle and senior ranks, respectively. Furthermore, currently there are 70 female academicians at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering, making up 6 percent of the total, which is a fairly high ratio internationally.

Women's health conditions have constantly improved. In 2000, there were 609 hospitals specially for women and children, employing 72,000 medical personnel, and 2,598 clinics for women and children, employing 75,000 medical personnel. By 1999, the ratio of health care for pregnant and puerperal women throughout the country had exceeded 86 percent, and 95.4 percent of rural women had access to the modern method of midwifery. The mortality rate of pregnant women and women in labor dropped to 56.2 per 100, 000 from 61.9 per 100,000 in 1995. Beginning in 2000, the Chinese government has practiced a two-year special plan in the western region and impoverished rural areas with 200 million yuan earmarked to combat the maternal mortality rate and eliminate trismus nascentium. In October 2000, the China Poverty Relief Fund formally started the Strategic Plan of "Action 120 for the Safety of Mother and Baby," committing itself in establishing health and first-aid organs for women and children at the county, township and village levels in the poverty-stricken areas in the six provinces and one municipality in the central and western parts of China, to improve the health care of poor mothers and babies, and eliminating the mortality rate of babies, pregnant women and women in labor. An estimated 32 million yuan is to go to this 10-year campaign.

The state has adopted measures to effectively protect women's rights against infringement. To curb domestic violence, bigamy and taking concubines more effectively, perfect the family property system and protect women's rights in marriage and the family against infringement, the NPC mobilized people of various circles to conduct serious research for the revision of the Marriage Law, and publicized the draft amendments to the Marriage Law in January 2001 for public discussions. So far, the people's congresses and governments at all levels have formulated over 20 local regulations and policies for preventing and curbing domestic violence. By the end of October 2000, 13 provinces and 47 prefectures, cities and counties throughout the country had established the system of joint conference for protecting women's rights, attended by many departments, to regularly coordinate, supervise and examine the work of protecting women's rights and interests. The court system has set up 544 collegiate panels for safeguarding the rights and interests of women and children, employing 4,266 full-time cadres from women's organizations as people's assessors to directly participate in the trial of cases involving women's rights and interests. Between April and July 2000, the public security organs launched a nationwide movement to crack down on crimes of abducting and trafficking in women and children, in accordance with the law, and uncovered some 20,000 such cases, which involved 7,600 criminal gangs, saving or making proper arrangements for the resettlement of a large number of women and children who had been abducted and sold.

The rights of children have been effectively protected. China has constantly upheld the prophylactic immunization filing system for children to prevent and control pneumonia, diarrhea, rickets and iron-deficiency anemia. China has also conducted a baby- friendly campaign, advocated breast feeding, built baby-friendly hospitals, provided health care services such as children's nutrition guide, monitoring of children's growth, examination of newborn infant diseases, and preschool education for children, increasingly improving children's growth level and nutrition conditions. In 2000, child mortality dropped by one third as compared with 1990, and the rate of malnutrition among children dropped by 50 percent. To promote the healthy development of children, the Program for the Safe and Healthy Development of Chinese Children was initiated in October 2000. The basic tasks of this program are, through a series of publicity activities and providing training and services, to create a favorable social environment for the sound development of children, help children to stay away from dropout, disease, injury and crime, and effectively protect the rights and interests of children. By the end of 1999, the "Hope Project" had received a total of 1.84 billion yuan in donations, with which it had helped the construction of 7,812 "Hope" primary schools and aided 2.3 million dropouts. In 2000, the Children's Foundation of China raised some 81 million yuan to support the implementation of the "Spring Buds Program," helping a total of 1.05 million girl dropouts return to school.