Twenty women were recently elected to be directors of their village committees, all in Shaanxi Province's Heyang County, setting a record for the number of women to have become local rural officials in a province.
"Our county may have the largest number of female village heads in the country," said Liu Minlan, chairwoman of Heyang County Women's Federation, following a national conference on the matter.
Statistics from the Shaanxi Provincial Women's Federation showed that in the province's sixth general village election across 27,321 villages at the end of 2006, the female members raised to village committees numbered 120,000 or 12.2 percent of all total committee members.
"The number of female directors stood at 291, equaling 1.07 percent of village directors in the province, and for the first time breaking past the national average of 1 percent," said Yi Yuchan, Party secretary of Shaanxi Provincial Women's Federation.
Guo Danzhu, researcher at the Shaanxi Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, addressed direct elections of village committees as providing a prime vehicle for women to reach senior management positions within village organizations.
"The idea that men are more powerful than women is wholly outdated. So why can't women be directors?" said Liu Duyuan, 74, a villager in Heyang County.
(China Daily March 6, 2007)