IV. Women's Participation in Decision Making and Management

Women's ability to be involved in the management of state and social affairs has been constantly strengthened, and their ability in handling political affairs has gradually enhanced. China's Constitution clearly stipulates the basic principle that men and women have equal political rights. The Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women has made further stipulations to ensure that women can participate in decision making and management. The Outline for the Development of Chinese Women clearly defines the specific goals to be reached for women to participate in government work. All these have laid the legal and policy foundation for increasing women's participation in government work.

The people's congress system is a fundamental political system in China, and the state pays great attention to the important role played by women in the people's congresses at all levels. The Election Law of the National People's Congress and Local People's Congresses at All Levels of the People's Republic of China, promulgated in 1995, stipulates that deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) and local people's congresses at all levels should include appropriate numbers of women, and the proportion of women deputies should be increased step by step. In the past decade, women have displayed great enthusiasm for participating in electing deputies to the people's congresses at all levels and exercising their democratic rights. Some 73.4 percent of women turned out to elect deputies to local people's congresses. Of all the deputies to the various National People's Congresses, more than 20 percent have been women. The proportion of women among the deputies to the Tenth National People's Congress is 20.2 percent; and women members account for 13.2 percent of all members of the Standing Committee of the NPC, an increase of 0.5 percentage point over the previous national congress. Moreover, three of the vice-chairpersons of the NPC's Standing Committee are women.

The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a basic political system in China. The CPC is the ruling party, while all other political parties are participants in state affairs. They are allies working closely with the CPC. Women account for a certain number of CPC members. In 2004, female membership in the CPC was 12.956 million, accounting for 18.6 percent of all CPC members, an increase of 3 percentage points over 1995. Women deputies accounted for 18 percent of all deputies to the 16th CPC National Congress, an increase of 1.2 percentage points over the previous congress. Of the members of the 16th Central Committee of the CPC, 7.6 percent are women (as either members or alternate members), an increase of 0.3 of one percentage point over the previous congress. Female membership is relatively high in the eight democratic parties, exceeding 30 percent in seven of them. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is an important organ of the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the CPC. At present, four of the vice-chairpersons of the National Committee of the CPPCC are women. Women members and women Standing Committee members of the first conference of the Tenth National Congress of the CPPCC accounted for 16.7 and 11.7 percent, respectively, up 1.2 percentage points and 1.7 percentage points over the first conference of the previous congress.

The state has clearly defined the objective for training and selecting women cadres, and has strengthened the work of training and selecting women cadres. As a result, women are now widely participating in the state and social administrative work, and a large number of outstanding women serve as leading cadres at various levels. By the end of 2004, women cadres at county (division) or prefecture (department) level accounted for 16.9 percent and 12.6 percent of all cadres at the corresponding level in all Party committees, people's congresses, governments, CPPCC organizations, courts, procuratorates, democratic parties and mass organizations across the country, 4.3 percentage points and 4.5 percentage points higher than in 1995, respectively; 368 incumbent or vice mayors (commissioners and prefects) were women; and women cadres at or above the provincial (ministry) level accounted for 9.9 percent of the total at that level, an increase of 2.8 percentage points over 1995. At present, China has one woman vice-premier and one woman state councilor on the State Council, and 25 women incumbent or vice ministers or ministerial-level directors or heads in the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and the ministries and commissions under the State Council. The proportion of women civil servants recruited in 2003 nationwide was 27.8 percent of the total; and that in the organs of the CPC Central Committee and central government was 37.7 percent. In addition, China also attaches great importance to the training of women cadres of ethnic groups, and to strengthening their ability to participate in state affairs.

The level of participation in state affairs by women at the grassroots level has also risen continuously. Women in both rural and urban areas enthusiastically take part in the elections of neighborhood committees and village committees. In 2004, the number of women neighborhood committee members reached 237,000, and that of women village committee members reached 443,000, accounting for 55.8 percent and 15.1 percent of the total members of neighborhood committees and village committees, respectively. A large number of women have come to the fore as chairpersons of neighborhood and village committees.

The role of women's federations in participating in and supervising government work has been strengthened. The channels for women's democratic participation have been constantly widened. As the representatives of all China's women, women's federations at all levels are involved in formulating and revising laws and regulations regarding women's rights and interests. They are also involved in supervising the enforcement of such laws and regulations. Relevant government departments earnestly solicit the comments of women's federations and make a point of reflecting their opinions in related policies and plans.