Women deputies call for greater female voice

Updated: 2012-03-08 08:00

By He Dan (China Daily)

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More women should be elected as national legislators at the next National People's Congress elections in 2013, female deputies at this year's NPC session urged.

"The United Nations suggests that female numbers in congress or other legislatures should reach 30 percent, while the figure in our country has not reached that level," Sun Xiaomei, a professor specializing in women studies at China Women's University and NPC deputy, told China Daily on Wednesday.

Women deputies call for greater female voice

Zou Ping (center), a deputy of the National People's Congress, poses for a photo with Brigitta Backstrom (right), wife of the Finnish ambassador to China, and Paula Parviainen, deputy head of mission with the Finnish embassy in China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. [Zou Hong / China Daily]

Zhang Liming, an official at the All China Women's Federation and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, said on Tuesday that the proportion of female NPC deputies has hovered around 21 percent over the past 30 years.

"All China Women's Federation proposes that the election law should be amended to ensure giving gender parity to candidate lists and allocate more winnable seats to women and increase the proportion of women deputies in the NPC," Zhang said.

Statistics from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an international organization of parliaments, showed that Chinese women's political representation ranked 60th in the world by the end of 2011.

"China has kept dropping in the ranking since 1995, from 16th that year to 38th in 2005," Sun said.

Sun said insufficient female deputies in the congress meant that few topics related to women's rights can be discussed during the country's significant conferences.

Proposals on women's welfare and interests made up only 1.4 percent of all NPC deputies' proposals in 2011, according to Sun's research, although the number had been slowly rising over the previous three years.

"China should strive to improve gender equality, because if you put too much emphasis on development but ignore gender difference, women will continue facing unfair treatment in many fields," Sun said.

Hu Wei, a 49-year-old resident of Beijing, said that he supported the suggestion.

"Women account for nearly 50 percent of our total population. We definitely need more women representatives in the NPC to give a greater voice to women," he said.

Li Xiaolin, chief executive officer of China Power International Development Ltd and member of the CPPCC National Committee, said women should be empowered in all fields, including business and social services.

"You very rarely see female senior executives in the major companies, and in hospitals, there are many female nurses and doctors, but the chiefs are usually men," Li said.

You may contact the writer hedan@chinadaily.com.cn