Chinese women's political and social status has risen steadily over the past decade, but they still face serious obstacles, State Councilor Wu Yi said Tuesday.
Wu, also director of the Women and Children Work Committee of the State Council, made the remarks in a report on the protection of women to the 29th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).
The presence of Chinese women in the political arena had become more common, and their personal rights and those of their employment, education and medical welfare were all well ensured, said Wu.
The Chinese government had taken various measures to encourage women to take part in the political and social affairs, said Wu.
Almost all the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had women officials in government and the proportion of female officials had reached 36.2 percent of the total.
Local governments had also tried various ways to broaden employment channels for women, including encouraging the development of tertiary industry, promoting community household services, giving favorable policies to women in poverty-reduction projects and encouraging women to open their own businesses.
Following these measures, the number of employed Chinese women had risen from 280 million in 1990 to 330 million in 2000, accounting for 46 percent of the total population employed.
Chinese women were also enjoying better chances for education. From 1995 to 2000, 13.4 million illiterate Chinese women had been educated, said Wu.
Great improvements had also been made in the health care of Chinese women, said Wu. The baby delivery rate at hospitals in China had risen from 51 percent in 1990 to 75.98 percent in 2000 while the maternity death rate dropped from 61.9 to 53 in every 100,000.
At the same time, Chinese local governments had also taken effective measures to strike hard against the crimes of rape, prostitution and kidnapping to safeguard women's personal safety. "We may firmly affirm our achievements in protecting the rights and interests of women, but we also need to realize clearly that problems still exist and some of them are quite serious," said Wu.
"Women's involvement in politics is still far from satisfactory and women are still discriminated against in the workplace."
Those in poor areas were still less educated and put up with worse medical facilities and their interests and rights in family and marriage were seriously violated in some areas, she said.
"To educate the public about the law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests is an effective way to solve the problems," said Wu. She also called for the improvement of laws and regulations on women's protection and urged more effort in finding job opportunities for women.
(Xinhua News Agency August 27, 2002)