Chapter VII

Organizational Guarantees of the
Rights and Interests of Chinese Women

Guarantees for the legal rights and interests of women are an issue of common concern in China. Government organs, social organizations, enterprises and institutions, and rural and urban mass groups at the grass roots have all made efforts to this effect in line with the laws and regulations.

People's congresses at all levels are responsible for drafting and revising laws and statutes to protect women's rights and interests. They supervise the implementation of relevant laws and governmental work to safeguard the position of women and children. To ensure the task is performed well, the Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs under the National People's Congress (NPC) and the standing committees of 16 provincial, autonomous, and municipal people's congresses have established special departments to handle matters concerning women and children. Committees at all echelons of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) carry out democratic supervision and provide political consultation on legislations concerning women's rights and interests and their implementation. They conduct surveys of major problems connected with women, and submit their opinions and suggestions for resolving them. The National CPPCC and its counterparts in some provinces and municipalities have also established committees for women and youth.

People's governments at each level and their departments are responsible for drafting and revising women-related administrative regulations, issuing relevant decisions and orders, linking women's advance with social development, and adopting administrative measures to oversee the protection of women's rights and interests. Judicial bodies at all levels, in accordance with legal procedures, hear and judge cases and punish criminals who infringe on women's rights and interests and see to it that laws are upheld. To coordinate and propel governmental departments in their work of guaranteeing the rights of women, the State Council has established a Work Committee for Women and Children. Its members include leaders from 16 ministries and commissions and four mass organizations. Similar local government bodies have also been set up in all the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, with the exception of Taiwan.

More than 5,800 mass women's organizations in China undertake to report women's views and their problems to the authorities and make suggestions on how to solve them. They are an important force in safeguarding the status of women. The biggest of these is the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), which comprises women from different ethnic groups and all walks of life. It has broad representation and a popular basis, and furthermore, a sound functional network. Its basic units can be found in urban neighborhoods as well as in villages. Aiming to represent and defend the interests of women, the federation devotes itself to promoting sexual equality and raising women's position in society. Its outstanding work has earned it a high reputation in society and women's confidence. Many other national, regional, and professional women's organizations, such as the Council of Women Workers, the Association of Women Scientific and Technological Workers, the Young Women's Christian Association, and associations of women entrepreneurs, women engineers, women journalists, women judges, lawyers, writers, calligraphers and so on, are affiliated with the federation. As the federation has the same goal as the government, which is to unite women to take part in social development and to defend women's rights and interests, its work is supported and encouraged by the authorities on every rung. The eight democratic parties of China have also set up commissions for women, whose efforts have effectively defended the cause of women.

Mass media and research institutes play an important role in safeguarding the rights and interests and promoting the advancement of women. The press, radio and television publicize state laws and regulations upholding women's rights and interests and civilized and progressive views on women. This has greatly promoted public awareness of women's rights and contributions to society. Women's organizations have also published many newspapers and magazines for women, the ACWF and its branches alone have 47 periodicals. Some newspapers have special columns on women. Radio and television stations make special women's programs. National and local research institutes on women have been established and their activities help in many ways to protect women's rights and interests.

Coordinating their efforts and acting together, the above-mentioned groups have produced positive results in eliminating discrimination against women, upholding equality between men and women, improving women's qualifications and promoting the advancement of women.

The Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women is the product of joint efforts by organs of state power, executive bodies and mass groups. The idea of drafting such a law was first put forward by the All-China Women's Federation. Drafts and proposals to this effect were submitted by deputies to the NPC, members of the CPPCC and representatives to the Women's Congress. The proposal gained the attention and acceptance of the Standing Committee of the NPC, which entrusted the drafting work to the ACWF, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions. The Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs under the National People's Congress and the Work Committee for Women and Children under the State Council also participated. Since the statute was promulgated, these organizations have launched publicity activities and extensive surveys to promote its implementation.

To stop the abduction and sale of women and children and prostitution, phenomena which have reappeared in some areas in recent years, the State Council issued a Notice on Reprisals Against Trafficking in Women and Children in 1989. In 1991, in response to proposals by some political parties and organizations, the NPC drew up the Decision on the Strict Prohibition Against Prostitution and Whoring and the Decision Regarding the Severe Punishment of the Criminals Who Abduct and Traffic in or Kidnap Women or Children. Government departments involved held three successive work meetings, and as a result, social security was enhanced and felonies checked. In 1992, there was a 35.2 percent reduction in cases of abduction and sale of women and children as compared with 1991, and there was a further drop of 9 percent in 1993.

Female self-improvement is a strategic task fundamental to the protection of women's rights and interests. Since 1989, the All-China Women's Federation, together with over 10 governmental departments, has launched several campaigns for the betterment of women themselves. One aimed at promoting cultural and technical studies and achievements among women of different ethnic groups in the countryside. By the end of 1993, more than 120 million rural women had joined in and 90 million of them had received practical technical training. Another 10 million had learned to read and write, while 510,000 gained the title of agro-technician. In poverty-stricken areas, mostly old revolutionary bases, ethnic minority areas and border regions, 250 training classes have been held and 4,500 aid stations have been set up to help the impoverished. Nowadays, 80 percent of the poor families covered by these stations have adequate food and clothing. About 37.76 million urban women took part in an ACWF-initiated project to contribute to the Eighth Five-Year Plan, and 4,672 of them were dubbed pacesetters, and another 15,132 were awarded at provincial level or above the title of "Able Woman". The above-mentioned project embraced a call for women to have high ideals, high moral standards, education and discipline (briefly known as "four haves") as well as to strive for self-respect, self-confidence, self-reliance and self-strengthening (briefly known as "four selfs"). The slogan of "four selfs" was first raised at the Sixth National Congress of Women. Then, the Seventh National Congress of Women adopted a 10-Point Goal for the Advancement of Chinese Women in the 1990s. The "four selfs" slogan and the 10-point goal produced a widespread impact upon women and society. Inspired by them, millions of Chinese women are realizing their own betterment and progress in the course of propelling society forward.