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Women's Status Rising in W. China's Rural Areas
A recent investigation shows that women in western China’s rural areas play a more and more important role in their families. The rights of rural women in these areas are basically protected.

The investigation made by the China Institute for Reform and Development, Sichuan University and Northwest Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology University, involved 397 villages of 95 cities or counties in 12 provinces. The focus of the investigation was on the protection of women’s equal rights.

The result shows that rural women in northwestern China can basically enjoy the equality between man and woman, and their rights, such as that to land contracting, are protected. It also shows that rural women play an increasingly important role in their families.

Women are holding more responsibilities in China’s agricultural production as a large number of men have left home to work in cities. According to the investigation, 33.3 percent women are the main laborers in the families, and only 12.8 percent rural females stay home to do housework while their husbands do the farming.

The investigation shows that man is no longer the only decision-maker of the family. In 30.4 percent of the families surveyed, men hold absolute decision-making right, and in 2.2 percent families the decision-making right belongs to women. It has become the trend that husband and wife share the decision-making right, those families occupying 55.2 percent of the investigated.

It also shows that women have more financial right. About 35.5 percent husbands answered that their wives control the family money, while 44.9 percent of the husbands are still the “Minister of Finance” in the family; only 3.5 percent couples manage their family finance together.

Though in the western rural areas of China men are usually the “legal persons” of their families, women now have enough opportunities to take part in social activities, such as attending villagers’ meetings to give their opinions. Many rural women are active in social affairs and more than 10 percent of them are willing to vote in the election of deputies to the People’s Congress.

(China.org.cn by Wu Nanlan, February 2, 2003)

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