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Even since the dramatic post-1949 changes in China regarding the role of
women, China has remained paternalistic in it\'s attitudes and social
reality. The land reform, which was intended to create a more balanced
economic force in marriage, was the beginning of governmental efforts to
pacify women, with no real social effect.
Communist China needed to address the "woman question". Since women wanted
more equality, and equality is doled out from the hands of those in power,
capitalism was examined. The economic issues of repressed Chinese women
were focused on the Land Act and the Marriage Act of 1950. The Land reform
succeeded in eliminating the extended family\'s material basis and hence,
its potential for posing as a political threat to the regime. Small-plots
were redistributed to each family member regardless of age or sex; and land
reform provisions stipulated that property would be equally divided in the
case of divorce. Nonetheless, their husbands effectively controlled land
allotted to women. Patriarchal familial relationships in the Confucian
tradition seemed to remain intact.
The Marriage Law of 1950 legalized marriage, denounced patriarchal
authority in the household and granted both sexes equal rights to file for
divorce. The second and most prominent element of the strategy was
integrating women into economic development. Women\'s employment was viewed
as a prerequisite for emancipation from bourgeois structures as embodied in
the patriarchal family. Furthermore, at the core of the CCP\'s strategy for
political consolidation was economic reconstruction and rural development.
The full participation of women was not only an ideological imperative but
a pragmatic one. Third, the All-China Women\'s Federation (W.F.) was
established by the CCP to mobilize women for economic development and
social reform. Women did succeed in gaining materialisticly.
However, culture dictates whether these governmental attempts can be
successful and China has proven that they were only panaceas for the real
issue. Materialistic approaches could not shadow the issue of the view in
Chinese society of the role of women. In the struggle for equality, China
did not go to the women to find what they believed to be the most effective
answer to the issue. The paternalistic powers gave women what they thought
they needed for an equalizer, not understanding the need for
self-affirmation and independence.
The issue the women rallied under was that men were answering the "woman
question". Women\'s organizations were not allowed their voice, which became
an ironic and frustrating endorsement to the pathetic state of women in
The One-Family, One-Child policy launched in 1979 has turned reproduction
into an area of direct state intervention. The new regime under Deng made
the neo-Malthusian observation that the economic gains from reform were
barely sufficient to accommodate a population of one billion, given the
natural population growth rate of 1.26 percent, much less provide a base
for advanced industrial development. The One-Family, One-Child campaigns
have therefore targeted women to limit their childbearing as a "patriotic
The family planning policy is implemented by local units of the W.F.,
barefoot doctors and health workers who are mainly women. Each family is
visited individually by members of the local family planning committee.
After the first child, women are awarded a one-child certificate that
entitles them to a number of privileges. Standard regulations concerning
the type of birth control method employed require IUDs after one child,
sterilization after the second one and abortion for unapproved pregnancies.
The policy rests on a coercive system of sanctions and rewards. Economic
sanctions include: payment of an "excess child levy" as compensation to the
state for the cost of another child to the country; reduction in the
family\'s grain ration (or higher prices) for producing a "surplus" child;
limitations on additional land for private plots and the right to
collective grain in times of flood and drought; and ineligibility for
promotion for four years, demotion, or reduction in wages (Anders,52).
Moreover, the offending couple has to bear all expenses for medical care
and education of excess children, and "extra" children have the lowest
priority in admission to kindergarten, school and medical institutions.
In contrast, one-child families are entitled to many privileges including
monthly or annual cash subsidies for health or welfare until the child
reaches fourteen years of age; and additional private plots from the
commune. Single children are entitled to free education, health services,
and priority in admission to nurseries, schools and hospitals. Parents
receive an additional subsidy to their old age pension (Croll,89).
The basis for the issue is ironical again. Population growth is generally
the result of a well functioning society. Improved medicine and nutrition
has sustained a higher life expectancy. Internal peace in China has also
contributed to the individuals living
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Chinese women, Women in China, One-child policy, Sterilization, Sexism, Women in Asia, Globalization and women in China
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