V. The Rights and Interests of Women and Children

The state protects the legitimate rights and interests of women and children in accordance with the law. Since 2000, the state has successively enacted or revised laws and regulations, including the Marriage Law, Law on Population and Family Planning, Law on Rural Land Contracts, Regulations for the Administration of Family Planning Technology and Services, Implementation Procedures for the Law on Health Care for Mothers and Infants, and Regulations for Premarital Health Care Work.

In 2001, the Chinese government promulgated and put into effect the Outline for the Development of Chinese Women 2001-2010 and Outline for the Development of Chinese Children 2001-2010. Currently, the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests is being revised. The formulation, revision and implementation of these laws, regulations and policies have enhanced the protection of the rights and interests of women and children in respect to children's survival and growth, and women's health care, education, employment, marriage and family.

Women's right to participate in the administration of state affairs is protected. Currently, among the 29 ministries and ministerial-level commissions and agencies of the State Council there are 22 female officials of the ministerial rank. Among the deputies to the Tenth NPC, women make up 20.24 percent of the total; among the NPC Standing Committee members, 13.2 percent; and among its vice-chairpersons, 18.8 percent. The Tenth NPC elected one female vice-premier and one female state councilor. Among the Party and government leaders at all levels in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government there are more than 5,000 women.

Job opportunities for women keep growing, and women have become increasingly independent economically. In 2002, some 335.52 million women were employed, or 45.5 percent of the total female population. The net increase of employed women over the past five years was 5.65 million. From January to September in 2003, 1.31 million laid-off women were re-employed, or 37.43 percent of the total number of laid-off women.

The number of urban women employees makes up 38 percent of the total number of the urban employed. The proportion of women employed in the primary and secondary industries has been on the decline, while in the new industries and technology- and knowledge-intensive industries, the proportion of women has increased remarkably.

The educational gap between men and women is narrowing, and the ratio of women in education at all levels has been on the rise. By 2002, the enrolment rate of school-age children in primary schools was 98.58 percent, and that of girls 98.53 percent.

Female students currently in primary schools, ordinary middle schools, secondary vocational schools and ordinary institutions of higher learning were 47.2 percent, 46.7 percent, 51.86 percent and 43.95 percent, respectively, of the total student body in those schools. The rate of illiterate young and middle-aged women had dropped to less than 5 percent. In 2002, there were 78 female academicians in the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, representing 6.2 percent of the total number of academicians.

Health care for women and children has been improved. Recently, the Chinese government has conducted a general survey and provided medical treatment for gynecological diseases and a systematic health examination for women in pregnancy and confinement recently throughout the country.

In addition, measures for the prevention and treatment of common gynecological diseases are regularly carried out. By the end of 2002, the rate of nationwide medical examination for pre-marriage women and prenatal examination for pregnant women was respectively 68.03 percent and 90.14 percent, which were increases of 3.48 percent and 0.78 percent, respectively, compared with the figures for 2000. In 2002, there were 3,067 maternity and child care establishments in China. The rate of adoption of modern midwifery in rural areas reached 97.2 percent that year.

Over a long time in the past, the state has instituted a planned immunity, prevention and vaccination system, carrying out activities to prevent and cure juvenile pneumonia, diarrhea, rickets and iron-deficiency anemia. It has launched a baby-friendly drive, promoted breast-feeding, established baby-friendly hospitals, and provided health services, including nutrition guidance, monitoring of the growth and development of children, screening of infantile diseases and children's early-stage education, so as to continuously enhance the level of children's physical development and nutrition.

In 2002, the rate of serious malnutrition in children below the age of five was 2.83 percent, or 0.26 percentage point lower than the figure for 2000. In 2002 there were altogether 178 children's welfare homes, 52 more than in 2000, and social welfare institutions took in 55,000 children, over 10,000 more than in 2000. Some 51,400 handicapped children were given rehabilitation training, over 10,000 more than in 2000.

The state has taken special measures to crack down on abducting and selling and other criminal activities against women and children in accordance with the law, to protect women and children's rights from infringement. In 2003, public security organs have rescued well over 2,000 abducted women and children from the clutches of human traffickers. In 2002, the State Council revised and implemented the Regulations on Prohibiting the Use of Child Labor, and effectively curbed this abuse.