Women are gaining more decision-making power in daily family affairs, according to a national survey on family life conducted by the All-China Women's Federation.
The survey found 57 percent of wives have more say than their husbands in determining daily minor expenditures, while only 13.9 percent of husbands assume the role of decision maker in daily expenses.
But when it comes to bigger items, husbands have the upper hand, with 24.5 percent having the final say, while only 7 percent of wives are the boss in such decisions. The spouses not included in these percentages make their decisions jointly.
The results indicate that the trend is for wives and husbands to divide decision making on the basis of their different roles in a family, which is different from the past when the men decided everything.
"The trend is toward the equality of the sexes, a concept which most people now subscribe to," said Chen Aihua, a professor specializing in the relationship between men and women, at Southeast University in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.
She believes the most important factor behind this tendency is the improvement of women's economic status and education.
"Women feel more confident and independent, and therefore believe they have the right to make decisions for the family," she said.
The report was discussed at a two-day national symposium on the development of family virtues, held by the All-China Women's Federation in Nanjing. The conference wound up on Saturday.
Participants in the workshops presented papers, talked over the country's moral situation and generally exchanged ideas.
Another phenomenon which specialists have been taking note of is the relationship between parents and children. Of the parents asked, 32.6 percent said they hoped that their children would be far more successful than their peers.
Apart from the influence of traditional Chinese culture, pointed out Jin Yihong, a specialist on women and marriage studies in Nanjing Normal University, this sharply increased sense of competition is a result of the competitive nature of the market economy and China's entry into the World Trade Organization. "That's why parents now push their children to stand out among others," she said.
(China Daily September 10, 2002)