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Women Have More Say in the Changing Society

Uyunqimg, 59, was elected the chairwoman of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region’s government at the recent fourth session of the Ninth Autonomous Regional People’s Congress.

Being the first female chairperson in the autonomous regional government, she was also the only female official among the No.1 officials of all the provincial, municipal and autonomous regional-level governments in China.

The election occurred several days before the advent of the 91st International Women’s Day on March 8.

Now Wyunqimg is participating in the ongoing Fourth Session of the Ninth National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing to examine the draft of the Tenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2001-05) and other legislative bills.

Official statistics show that the number of female Chinese officials has reached nearly 14.9 million by the end of last year, accounting for 36.2 percent of China’s total governmental cadres.

Chinese women have experienced an earth-shaking change in their social status, Chinese sociologists remarked.

In ancient China, when men had the dominant say in all kinds of social affairs, women were confined to their families and deprived the right of suffrage.

Though the Empress Cixi at the late of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) managed to have a say in state political affairs, she still had to hide herself behind a curtain, leaving the emperor as the main figurehead.

Things have changed since new China was founded and Chinese women have been involved in the work of almost all circles of modern society.

Yexe Yangzom, a chief physician in the First People’s Hospital in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, was among the first group of female college students in this region 30 years ago.

“Tibetan women were at the bottom in society before Tibet was peacefully liberated by China’s liberation army,” she recalled. “Most of them had to deliver babies in horse stables, education and the right to participate in state affairs were just out of the question.”

“I have witnessed daily improvement of the quality of life for Tibetan women and their growing status in the past five decades,” she said.

More and more women have become decision makers in finance, website businesses, science research, commerce and many other industries in China.

Wu Shihong, who used to be a manager at IBM for Chinese sales and marketing and then chief manager at Microsoft (China) Co. Ltd, abdicated her post in Microsoft in 1999. She later became president of TCL information industry group.

TCL Corporation, with a total sales volume of 15 billion yuan (over US$1.8 billion) last year, is one of China’s three biggest electronics companies.

Women are bestowed with the gift of communication and cooperation, which may help them to develop in the information age, Wu said.

In east China’s Shanghai Municipality, the most prosperous metropolis in the country, women are trying to enter the stock trade.

Xu Li, who is the manager of a sales department at China’s famous Haitong Stock Co. Ltd, profited 25 million yuan (over US$3 million) for the company last year through her leading skills.

Women play an important role in promoting China’s economic progress and social advancement, said Peng Peiyun, president of the All-China Women’s Federation.

I’m deeply impressed by China’s great changes in recent years, said Felisa Lozano de Cordova, wife of the ambassador of Ecuador to China. She has been in China for five years.

On the other hand, Chinese women’s talents have not been fully developed so far, said Chen Lanyan from United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

She suggested that Chinese central government should give women more support so that they can give full play to their capability and have more say in society.

(People’s Daily 03/09/2001)

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