Chapter IV Extensive Participation in Administration
Of State and Social Affairs

In China, women take full part in administering state and social affairs and thus have made mammoth contributions to the country's development of democracy and building of its legal system.

Chinese women occupy an important place in people's congresses at various levels. When the First National People's Congress (NPC) was held in 1954, there were only 147 women deputies, accounting for 12 percent of the total. By 1993, when the Eighth NPC was convened, the number of women deputies had increased to 626, accounting for 21.03 percent of the total. The permanent body of the National People's Congress, the Standing Committee, had only four women members, or 5 percent of the total, at the time of the First NPC. By the Eighth NPC, the number of women standing committee members had increased to 19, rising to 12.3 percent. From 1954 to 1993, eight women served as vice-chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee. They include Soong Ching Ling, He Xiangning, Cai Chang and Chen Muhua.

Women deputies to people's congresses at various levels have played an important role in legislative work and the administration of other state and social affairs. They pay particular attention to the problems of education and public health, the ecological environment, the protection of the rights and interests of women, children and the disabled, social stions for legislation and policy-making and working hard to promote advances in these fields. The enactment of the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women and many other laws were made on the basis of motions put forward by women and with their participation.

Chinese women take an active part in the activities of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at various levels. In the Eighth National Committee of the CPPCC held in 1993, women accounted for 283 of the members and 29 of the standing committee members, making up 13.52 percent and 9.2 percent of their respective totals. Women members of the CPPCC are outstanding figures from all walks of life, and provide wide representation. From their different vantage points, they express their opinions on national affairs and government work, render consultation and carry out democratic supervision. Deng Yingchao, Kang Keqing and Qian Zhengying had been or is currently among the seven women serving as chairperson or vice-chairperson of the CPPCC National Committee.

The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China forms the basic political system of China. At present, the Chinese Communist Party has over 7 million women members, accounting for 14 percent of general membership. Many outstanding women work in various leading posts within the Party. The current 14th CPC Central Committee has 24 women members and alternate members, while six women are now acting as directors or deputy directors of departments under the CPC Central Committee. China's eight democratic parties have some 110,000 women members. In one party, women constitute 41 percent of the membership. There are 203 women in the central leading organs of the eight democratic parties. Madam Lei Jieqiong, vice-chairperson of the Eighth NPC Standing Committee, a noted scholar and social activist, is the chairperson of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.

Participation in government work is an important channel for women to play their role in the administration of state and social affairs. Since the founding of the People's Republic, one woman had served one term as vice-chairperson and later honorary president of the country, two women have served as vice-premiers of the State Council, and two have been state councilors. China's policies of reform and opening to the outside world not only have promoted economic development and social progress, but have also prepared better conditions for women to participate in government and political affairs. In 1993, women made up 32.44 percent of all people working in government organs. At present, the various ministries and commissions under the State Council have 16 female ministers and vice-ministers, and the country has 18 female provincial governors and deputy governors. In the nation's 517 cities, more than 300 women have been elected mayor or deputy mayor.

Women play an important role in strengthening legislative construction and safeguarding state security. China's judicial organs have a large number of women judges, procurators and lawyers. In 1992, the country boasted 21,012 female judges and 4,512 women lawyers.

Ordinary women in general also show concern for national affairs and government work. There is increasing enthusiasm on their part to involve themselves in government and political affairs. In all general elections since 1953, when the first general election was held for deputies to grass-roots people's congresses, over 90 percent of women had exercised their voting rights. Since 1984, the rate has risen to 95 percent. Apart from frequently making their voices heard through mass organizations, women also vent their opinions and raise their suggestions on government work and social issues by writing to or calling at relevant government offices or through the mass media.

Women of all ethnic groups and from all walks of life realize their democratic participation in and supervision over state and social affairs through women's federations at various levels. This is one of the important channels of women participation in political affairs in China. On behalf of women, these federations play a part in the making of laws and regulations related to the vital interests of women by the people's congresses and governments, and supervise their implementation. They can propose to relevant government departments that they issue policy documents for the settlement of womenrelated problems that emerge. They can also recommend women cadres to government organs, social organizations, enterprises and institutions.

The Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government consider the participation of women in government and political affairs an important component part of the building of democracy in China. They have issued special documents and called meetings for improving the external environment for women cadres, so as to raise the ratio of women participating in political affairs and ensure that women really enjoy the political rights written in the Constitution. These documents and meetings deal with the work of training and selecting cadres from among women. A whole series of regulations have been issued to this effect. At present, there are women in the Party and government leading bodies of 23 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government), 244 prefectures (cities, autonomous prefectures and leagues) and 2,106 counties (districts and banners). In order to promote equality, unity, progress and common prosperity among all ethnic groups, the government attaches particular attention to training women cadres of ethnic minorities, and has established schools for these minorities, run training classes for their women cadres and offer opportunities for them to go on to advanced studies. This has promoted a rapid growth of ethnic minority women cadres. By 1992, the number of minority women cadres nationwide reached 607,600, accounting for 26.6 percent of all minority cadres in the country. Among deputies to the Eighth NPC, 106 are female deputies from ethnic minorities, accounting for 17 percent of all women deputies. Moreover, three minority women were elected members of the Eighth NPC Standing Committee. Cadres from minority nationalities have become a backbone force in the political, economic and social development of minority areas.

The Chinese government is now working on the Program for the Development of Chinese Women, which is aimed at further promoting women's participation in government and political affairs as well as their overall participation and development.