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Retirement age to rise for women
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The retirement age for women officials at county level and above is set to be raised from 55 to 60 next year, as part of a series of legal revisions to ensure sexual equality at work, the Beijing municipal government said on Wednesday.

The city's legislation office began collecting public opinion on Tuesday on the planned revisions to Beijing's implementation of the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women.

"State organs and institutions should respect and protect women workers. The official retirement age for women officials at county level and above should be the same as for men, while the retirement age for top women scholars should also be raised so as to achieve equality between men and women," the government said on its website.

Under current regulations, women officials at the municipal level and under have to retire at 55, five years before their male counterparts.

If the revisions are approved, Beijing will become the first city to raise the retirement age for women. The revisions are expected to come into force sometime next year.

Wang Fengqin, a senior official with the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), said on Wednesday that men and women should be treated equally in the workplace.

"There shouldn't be any difference between the retirement ages for men and women," she told China Daily.

Chen Benjian, a senior editor with China Women's News, welcomed the proposal, but said the its scope should not be limited to senior officials and scholars.

"It is also hard to say if the revisions will secure real equality, as not all women want to keep working until they are 60," she said.

As well as the change to the retirement age, the proposed amendment to Beijing's legislation is also concerned with women's political, cultural, education, labor, social security, property, and marriage rights.

For example, the revisions also include giving women laborers and workers' committees the right to ask for sexual harassment clauses to be included in their labor contracts.

If their employers then fail to protect them from sexual harassment, the workers will have the right to compensation.

The revisions also state that all women should be entitled to at least one physical checkup every two years, paid for either by their employer or the local government.

Members of the public are invited to submit their thoughts on the proposed revisions via the government's website until Dec 22, the legislation office said.

(China Daily December 4, 2008)

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