VI. Legitimate Rights and Interests
of Women and Children
China has made active endeavors in promoting equality between men and women and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of women. Women enjoy equal rights with men in state political life in accordance with the law. By the end of 1996, the number of women cadres in government departments, enterprises and institutions had climbed to 13.28 million, making up 33.8 percent of the total number of cadres in China. The number was over 200 times that of women cadres in the early period after the founding of New China. There are 626 women delegates to the Eighth National People's Congress, accounting for 21.03 percent of the total. The number of women holding leading posts at the various government departments has also increased. The number of female vice provincial governors increased from 18 in 1994 to 21 in 1996, that of women mayors and vice mayors grew from 174 to 225, and female county magistrates and vice magistrates from 1,329 to 1,540.
The economic, social and cultural rights of women have also been guaranteed. In 1995, female employees made up about 44 percent of the total employed people in China, higher than the world average rate of 34.5 percent. The number of women workers in cities and towns increased from 54.65 million in 1994 to 57.55 million in 1995, accounting for 38.6 percent of the total workforce in the country's cities and towns. The number of women scientists and technicians jumped from 8.097 million in 1993 to 9.881 million in 1995, making up 36.91 percent of the total. China implements the principle of men and women enjoying equal pay for equal work. Women's work is under special protection: women enjoy special care during the menstrual period, pregnancy, maternity leave and breast-feeding, and women workers who give birth can take a three-month leave of absence with pay.
Women's rights to receive education have further been protected. In the four decades and more since the founding of New China, the country has helped 110 million illiterate women learn how to read and write, cutting down the ratio of illiterate women from 90 percent in 1949 to 32 percent in 1995. In 1996, the ratio of school attendance for girls across China soared to 98.63 percent from 80 percent in 1990. The gap in the ratio of school attendance between girls and boys decreased from 2.9 percent in 1991 to 0.35 percent in 1996. The ratio of female students in middle schools and colleges and universities increased from 42.2 percent and 33.7 percent respectively in 1990 to 45.5 percent and 36.4 percent in 1996. By 1995, China had built 1,679 women's secondary vocational schools and three women's vocational universities and opened 60 specialities suitable for women. More than 13 million women had been enrolled by adult schools across the country.
Women's health conditions have improved considerably. Health care networks for women and children have been built in both urban and rural areas. By 1995, China had built 349 hospitals and 2,832 clinics for women's and children's health care, 49 obstetrics and gynecology hospitals and 35 children's hospitals. The mortality rate of pregnant women and women in labor was reduced from 67.3 per 100,000 in 1993 to 61.9 per 100,000 in 1995. The average life expectancy of women climbed from 36 years in 1949 to 72 years in 1995, three years longer than average life expectancy for men in China, and seven years longer than the average life expectancy of 65 years for women set by the United Nations for the year 2000.
China attaches importance to protecting the interests and rights of children. It has built a relatively complete legal system for protecting children's rights and interests, with the Law on Protection of Minors as the mainstay. Since the Outline on Development for Chinese Children in the 1990s was promulgated in February 1992, 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities as well as 80 percent of the prefectures and cities and more than 50 percent of the counties and districts in China have worked out their own development plans for children. To effectively guarantee the healthy growth of children, the legislative, judicial and relevant government departments and social organizations in China have built institutions which take charge of coordinating and promoting government departments concerned to do a good job in safeguarding the interests and rights of women and children. The State Council has set up the Women and Children Work Committee. Thirty provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have also set up committees to work for women and children or committees for the protection of children and adolescents. The majority of prefectures, cities, counties and districts have also established women and children work committees.
The conditions for Chinese children's development have been remarkably improved and the mid-term goals for children's development in the 1990s set by the State have been attained. Since 1991, China has been conducting a large-scale baby-friendly campaign. By the end of 1995, China had built 2,957 baby-friendly hospitals. The mortality rates of infants and children under five have declined year by year, dropping to 36.4 per thousand and 44.5 per thousand, respectively, in 1995. During the 1991-95 period, the mortality rates of infants and children under five dropped annually by 7.7 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively, on average. According to a multi-index household survey in 1995, the rate of malnutrition in the moderate and worst degrees, judging by the internationally accepted standards, among children under five in China was 15.8 percent, 23.83 percent lower than the 1990 rate of 20.74 percent. China started a universal immunity program for children in 1978. Reports show that in 1995, 92.3 percent of the children in China were vaccinated, 92.1 percent were inoculated against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus, 93.8 percent against polio and 92.9 percent had measles shots.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the convales"icence needs of disabled children. By 1995, over 2,000 convalescence centers for disabled children had been set up in large and medium-sized cities throughout the country. By the end of 1995, more than 60,000 deaf children had received training in hearing and speech courses, and 100,000 mentally-handicapped children had improved their abilities to care for themselves and to learn through training. Over 30,000 children with poor sight had received eyesight-aiding devices to improve their vision. Children who suffered from sequelae of infantile paralysis and congenital cataracts have received medical treatment with more than 200,000 disabled children restored to health in the 1991-95 period.
China's social welfare institutions mainly take in orphans who have lost their parents and have no legal guardians. To provide guarantee for the orphans in living and medical care and convalescence, local governments funded welfare institutions with a total of 515 million yuan between 1990 and 1994. During the same period, the central government allocated 740 million yuan of special funds for improving the living conditions of children in welfare institutions. In recent years, many children's welfare institutions have raised funds to have restorative operations for disabled children in welfare institutions. In 1995, the country launched a nationwide project for the convalescence of disabled children, urging hospitals above grade three to operate on disabled children living in welfare institutions. As a result, over 200 disabled children in welfare institutions were restored to health.
The Chinese government devotes energetic efforts to developing health care undertakings for women and children and raising the health care and educational levels of nurseries and kindergartens. At present, there are a total of 187,300 kindergartens throughout the country. The demand for kindergartens in large and medium-sized cities has been basically satisfied.