China National Program for Women's Development (2011-2020)

February 13, 2015  Editor: Frank Zhao

Equality between men and women is a fundamental State policy in China. The level of gender equality is an important indicator of social civilization and progress. Women account for half of the Chinese population, constituting an important force in China's economic and social development. Safeguarding women's lawful rights and interests while promoting their development, and advancing women's development while protecting their rights and interests, is an intrinsic driving force, and important channel towards women's liberation. Protecting the rights and interests of women, promoting women's development, and pushing forward gender equality are vital to the country's economic and social development as well as to the civilization and progress of the Chinese nation.

In 2001, the State Council, promulgated the National Program for Women's Development in China (2001-2010) (hereinafter referred to as The Program). The Program major objectives, strategies and measures were set down according to six priority areas of development, namely: women and the economy; women's participation in decision-making and management; women's education; women and health; women and the law; women and the environment.

Over the past ten years, China has incorporated women's development into its overall national economic and social development plan. To vigorously implement The Program, the legal system safeguarding women's lawful rights and interests has been constantly improved, and the government has strengthened its managerial responsibility, expanded funding, and enhanced social advocacy. By 2010, most major targets set out in The Program were achieved with significant progress in  women's development and gender equality. Women enjoyed more social security benefits and the situation of impoverished women improved. The level of women's political participation raised, and their awareness of participation in social affairs enhanced. Women's educational level became steadily higher, and the education gap between the sexes   narrower. Women enjoyed a better health and greater average life expectancy. Legislation and law enforcement relative to women's rights and interests were consistently strengthened, and women's rights and interests better guaranteed. Equality between men and women, as a fundamental State policy, became more popularized in China, and the social environment for women's development further improved. The period from 2001 to 2010 was one of the most outstanding historical periods of women's development in China.

Restricted and affected as they are, however, by the level of productive forces and that of social civilization at the primary stage of socialism, women's development still faces many problems and challenges. Sex discrimination in employment still exists, in terms of income and access to resources. Women's participation in decision-making and management is still low, and the gender gap in education exists. Women's health care needs are yet to be better met, the social environment for women's development to be optimized, and further improvements are called for in levels of social security available to women. The interests-related demands of women of different social strata have become increasingly diversified, and urban-rural imbalances in women's development are yet to be fully addressed.

In the coming ten years, as economic globalization grows and international competition becomes more and more intense, the international community will in the process of promoting human development pay more attention to women's development and gender equality. The period from now till 2020 is crucial to the drive to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society in China. As economic and social development rapidly advances, rare opportunities and new challenges for women's development coexist. There is still a long way to go in promoting women's comprehensive development and realizing equality between men and women.

National Program for Women's Development (2011-2020) has been formulated on the basis of the basic principles prescribed in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the stipulations of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women and other related laws, the purposes of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women and other international conventions and documents, the general objectives and requirements of economic and social development, and the actual situation concerning women's development and gender equality in China.

I. Guidelines and Basic Principles

1. Guidelines

Hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics; be guided by Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of the "Three Represents"; thoroughly apply the Scientific Outlook on Development; carry out the fundamental State policy of equality between men and women; safeguard women's lawful rights and interests; improve the environment for women's development; enhance women's social status; encourage women to exercise democratic rights on an equal footing and according to law, and to equally participate in economic and social development so as to equally benefit from the achievements of reform and development.

2. Basic Principles

(1) The principle of comprehensive development. Based on the basic needs of women's survival and development, focus on addressing practical problems bearing on the immediate interests of women, with a view to achieving women's comprehensive development in political, economic, cultural, social and other spheres.

(2) The principle of equal development. Improve and implement the laws, regulations and policies promoting equality between men and women, pay more attention to social equity, construct a civilized and advanced gender culture, create a favorable social environment, narrow the gap in social status between men and women, and promote the harmonious development of men and women.

(3) The principle of coordinated development. Intensify support for women's development in rural poverty-stricken and ethnic minority areas; narrow the gaps between urban and rural women in per capita income, life quality, culture and education, medical and health services, and social security through improving the rules and regulations, increasing financial input and optimizing project layouts.

(4) The principle of women's participation. Ensure women's rights to participate in economic and social development according to law, respect women as a major social force, and instruct and support women in achieving individual progress and development while promoting socialist construction in economic, political, cultural, social and ecological civilization fields.

II. General Objectives

Incorporate gender awareness in the legal system and public policies, promote women's comprehensive development, enhance harmonious development between men and women, and promote the synchronizing of women's development with economic and social development. Ensure women's equal access to basic medical and health care services to significantly improve women's life quality and health; ensure women's equal rights and access to education to continuously raise their educational level; ensure women's equal access to economic resources and equal participation in economic development to manifestly enhance their economic status; ensure women's equal participation in the administration and management of State and social affairs to increase their level of political participation; ensure women's equal access to social security to notably improve their level of social welfare; ensure women's equal participation in the decision-making and management of environmental affairs to improve the environment for their development; and ensure the improvement of the legal system on the protection of women's rights and interests to steadfastly safeguard their lawful rights and interests.

III. Areas for Development, Major Objectives and Strategies and Measures

1.Women and Health

Major Objectives:

(1) Ensure  women's access to good basic medical and health care services throughout their life cycle, and prolong women's life expectancy.

(2) Reduce the maternal mortality rate to less than 20 per 100,000. Gradually narrow the gap between urban and rural areas in maternal mortality, and reduce the maternal mortality rate among the migrating population.

(3) Raise regular screenings for common gynecological diseases to over 80 percent. Increase the early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer and breast cancer, and reduce the mortality rate.

(4) Control the spread among women of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

(5) Bring down the incidence of moderate and severe anemia among pregnant and lying-in women.

(6) Ensure that more women are informed about psychological health and ways of avoiding mental illness.

(7) Ensure women's rights to make informed choices on contraception and birth control, reduce unwanted pregnancies and induced abortions.

(8) Increase the proportion of women regularly participating in physical exercises.

Strategies and Measures:

(1) Step up maternal and child health care. Optimize distribution of  resources and expand maternal and child health care funding in rural and remote areas. Strengthen construction of non-profit maternal and child health care institutions at all levels, improve maternal and child health care service networks and grassroots health service systems, and provide all women with a consistent standard of health care services. Expedite training of maternal and child health care workers, and improve the quality and quantity of the staff of health care institutions. Step up law enforcement and supervision and thoroughly investigate and deal with any illegal acts that threaten women's health.

(2) Strengthen sci-tech research on women's health. Relying fully on sci-tech progress, extensively plan and optimize the distribution of sci-tech resources, organize cross-departmental, cross-regional, and cross-disciplinary cooperation in key research projects, and strengthen research on major factors affecting women's health and relevant intervention measures. Encourage independent innovation, promote the application of research achievements, and spread new and appropriate technologies that are beneficial to women's health.

(3) Improve women's reproductive health services. Widely disseminate reproductive health knowledge, improve women's self-health-care consciousness and abilities, based on their physiological characteristics. Provide a standard reproductive health care service for women at adolescence, at child-bearing age, pregnancy and delivery, menopause, and old age, and help solve their health problems at each physiological stage.

(4) Guarantee pregnant and lying-in women's safe child-delivery. Strengthen the construction of grassroots obstetric institutions and the training of their staff, and improve obstetric services and health care for pregnant and lying-in women. Endeavor to raise the rate of pregnant and lying-in women under systematic medical care management to above 85 percent, the rate of childbirth in hospitals to above 98 percent nationwide, and the rate of rural hospitalized delivery to above 96 percent. Improve first aid networks for pregnant and lying-in women, disseminate appropriate midwifery techniques, and enhance rescue and treatment of pregnant and lying-in women in critical situations. Implement the subsidy policy for rural pregnant women giving birth in hospitals. Provide pregnant and lying-in women with necessary psychological guidance and health education, disseminate knowledge on spontaneous vaginal delivery, help them to choose a scientific mode of child delivery, and control the number of cesarean deliveries.

(5) Improve prevention and treatment of common gynecological diseases. Disseminate knowledge on prevention and treatment of common gynecological diseases and establish a regular screening system for such diseases. Increase input on special projects, and expand women's cervical and breast cancer screening coverage. Strengthen training on professional knowledge and quality service among grassroots maternal and child health care workers and family planning service providers. Promote the cervical and breast cancer diagnosis and treatment capability of medical institutions and provide subsidies for treatment of critical impoverished patients according to regulations.

(6) Prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Improve the operating mechanism for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Improve education for target groups of women on disease prevention and treatment, and disseminate effective intervention measures. Intensify supervision on places of entertainment, and severely crack down on drug abuse, prostitution, whoring and other illegal behaviors. Include blocking mother-to-infant transmission of HIV/AIDS, syphilis and hepatitis B in regular maternal and child health care work, step up provision of comprehensive preventive health services, increase HIV/AIDS screening of pregnant and lying-in women to 80 percent and syphilis screening to 70 percent, and raise the application rate of intervention measures to pregnant and lying-in women infected with HIV/AIDS or syphilis, as well as their new-born babies, to above 90 percent.

(7) Improve women's nutrition level. Promote education on and dissemination of health and nutrition knowledge, and advocate scientific and appropriate dietary schemes and regimens. Provide nutrition guidance and intervention to target social groups including pre-natal, pregnant and lying-in, and breast-feeding women according to their specific needs. Prevent and treat anemia among pregnant and lying-in women. Step up supervision on production and distribution of nutrition-enhanced food.

(8) Ensure women's access to quality family planning services. Conduct research and popularize safe, effective and appropriate new contraception and birth-control technologies and methods, advocate informed choices on forms of contraception and birth control, and provide quality contraceptive and birth-control services. Improve dissemination of contraceptive and birth-control knowledge, raise women's self-protection awareness and improve their ability to choose scientific and rational contraceptive methods, and prevent and control unwanted pregnancies and induced abortions. Strengthen men and women's awareness of their common responsibilities with regard to contraception and birth control, research and develop male contraceptives and birth-control products, and encourage men's adoption of birth-control measures to increase the proportion of male contraception.

(9) Improve women's mental health services. Establish a fully-functioning mental illness prevention-treatment-recovery service network covering both urban and rural areas. Provide counseling and services based on women's physiological and psychological traits. Improve mental health training for workers at professional mental health institutions as well as medical and health care institutions. Develop prevention, early discovery and intervention in women's post-natal depression.

(10) Improve health care services among migrant women. Improve the administrative mechanism and security system among migrant women, and ensure that migrant women have access to the same level of health care services as local women residents. Step up the dissemination of health care knowledge among migrant women.

(11) Guide and encourage women's regular participation in physical exercises. Strengthen scientific guidance on women's fitness activities, and raise their fitness awareness. Proactively develop urban and rural community fitness activities, and encourage women to participate in the nationwide fitness drive. Strengthen guidance and services on fitness activities among elderly women and women with disabilities.

2. Women's Education

Major Objectives:

(1) Ensure comprehensive implementation of the gender equality principle in education work.

(2) Work to ensure that the gross enrollment rate of children in kindergartens rises to 70 percent, and that girls enjoy equal access to three-year preschool education.

(3) Increase to 95 percent the retention rate of children in nine-year compulsory education, ensure that girls enjoy equal access to nine-year compulsory education, and eliminate the phenomenon of girls dropping out of school.

(4) Work towards ensuring that the gross enrollment rate of children in senior high school education rises to 90 percent, and that girls enjoy equal access to senior high school education.

(5) Work towards ensuring that the gross enrollment rate of children in higher education rises to 40 percent and that girls enjoy equal access to higher education, and strive to achieve a balanced gender ratio in higher education institutions.

(6) Step up the popularization of women's studies courses in higher education institutions.

(7) Expand the proportion of women in vocational school education and vocational training.

(8) Ensure that women receive an average 11.2 years of education before working age.

(9) Reduce the illiteracy rate of young and middle-aged women to less than 2 percent.

(10) Ensure that the gender equality principle and concept are fully reflected in the standards and teaching processes of education courses of all categories and levels.

Strategies and Measures:

(1) Include gender perspective and carry out the gender equality principle in the formulation, revision, implementation and evaluation of educational laws, regulations, policies and programs.

(2) Ensure girls' equal access to preschool education. Provide financial support to ensure that impoverished girls and girls with disabilities receive universal preschool education. Enhance the popularization of preschool education in rural areas, expand rural preschool education resources in various ways, and make efforts to ensure that "left-behind girls" (girls whose parents have moved to other regions of China to work) have access to kindergartens.

(3) Ensure that school-age girls have equal access to compulsory education. Expand the dissemination of the Education Law of the People's Republic of China, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Compulsory Education, and other laws and regulations, raise parents' legal awareness and promote their consciousness of the need to secure girls' right to compulsory education.

(4) Ensure girls' equal access to high school education. Boost support for high school education in impoverished areas in central and western China, and ensure that the demand of girls in rural and poverty-stricken areas for high school education is met. Provide financial support to impoverished girls and girls with disabilities in high school education, and ensure that girls do not drop out of school because of poverty and/or physical disabilities. Progressively provide free secondary vocational education and ensure that girls who fail to go on to senior high school receive the necessary vocational education before seeking employment.

(5) Improve women's access to higher education. Take proactive measures to protect women's equal access to higher education, and increase the proportion of women with higher education among the working-age population. Provide financial support to impoverished and/or disabled women college students in various forms and through multiple channels.

(6) Satisfy women's vocational education needs. Ensure equal emphasis on the importance of vocational school education and vocational training, and provide women with more opportunities and resources for vocational education. Support women in remote poverty-stricken areas and women with disabilities seeking vocational education. Provide compensatory education for overage girl dropouts, and expand their vocational training opportunities. Organize various forms of vocational training for unemployed women, and improve their ability to start their own businesses or to become re-employed. Offer vocational education majors applicable to the physiological and psychological characteristics of women with disabilities.

(7) Enhance life-long education for women. Construct an open and flexible life-long educational system that provides women with diversified, life-long education opportunities and resources. Encourage women to take up various forms of continuing education, and support employing units in providing such education opportunities for their women employees. Improve women's ability to use new media for access to modern distance education.

(8) Promote women's participation in community education. Integrate and optimize community education resources, develop diversified community education modes, enrich community education contents, and satisfy women's individualized study and development needs. Strengthen the development of community education for senior citizens, and provide convenient and flexible learning conditions for female senior citizens.

(9) Step up literacy programs for women. Innovate and improve the operating mechanism for literacy, formulate favorable policies, and reinforce work to provide literacy programs for young and middle-aged illiterate women. After eliminating illiteracy, consolidate the achievements of literacy programs, and carry out in-depth literacy drive and post-drive continuing education through organizing compensatory study.

(10) Improve training for female technological and technical talents. Improve policies for talents in the field of science and technology, and explore the establishment of a multi-layered, multi-channel training system for female sci-tech talents. Gather and train female professional talents by utilizing State key laboratories, key scientific research projects, and key engineering and construction projects.

(11) Improve women's theoretical research in gender theories and the building of women's studies in higher education institutions. Include projects and subjects on gender and women's development in State social science funds and other related funds to promote women's theoretical   studies. Expand the discipline ranking of women's studies, and encourage higher education institutions to offer a major or a course on women's studies with a view to cultivating women's studies professionals.

(12) Implement gender evaluation of education contents and process. Include gender experts in the staff of institutions providing guidance on school courses and textbooks. Fully reflect the gender concept in education contents and modes, and guide students to foster gender equality ideas.

(13) Improve gender awareness among education workers. Step up training among education administrators on gender theories, include gender equality content in teacher training programs and courses in normal colleges, and strengthen gender awareness among education administrators. Increase the percentage of women among decision-makers and administrators in schools of all levels and categories, and in education administration departments.

(14) Balance the gender structure of students in areas of study in secondary and higher education. Encourage students' comprehensive development, and reduce the influence of gender on students' choices of majors. Adopt diversified means to encourage more women to participate in high-tech study and research.

3. Women and the Economy

Major Objectives:

(1)   Ensure women's equal right to work, and eliminate gender discrimination in employment.

(2)   Ensure that women account for more than 40 percent of employees, and that the number of urban female workers progressively expands.

(3)   Reduce the gap in employment rate and the income gap between men and women in non-agricultural sectors.

(4)   Raise the proportion of women among skilled laborers.

(5)   Guarantee that the proportion of women among high-level professional and technical personnel reaches 35 percent.

(6)   Ensure female workers' safety at work, and reduce the incidence rate of occupational disease among women workers.

(7)   Ensure rural women's equal access and right to contracted land management.

(8)   Significantly reduce women's poverty level.

Strategies and Measures:

(1) Strengthen legal protection of women's economic rights. Enact and improve regulations and policies that guarantee women's equal participation in economic development and their equal labor rights. Ensure women's equal access to economic resources and effective services. Strictly implement employment-promotion and labor contract laws and regulations.

(2) Eliminate gender discrimination in employment. Other than in jobs and posts proscribed by law as unsuitable for women, no unit must refuse to employ women or raise the recruitment standards for women job applicants for gender reason or spuriously for gender reason; and no unit must, in labor contract or other forms, constrain women from marriage and childbearing. Intensify supervision over the enforcement of the labor protection laws, and investigate and deal with, according to law, acts of gender discrimination on the part of the employing units and employment agencies.

(3) Expand women's employment channels. Proactively develop tertiary industry with a view to creating new job opportunities and posts for women. Make continuous efforts to improve the abilities of small and medium-sized enterprises and non-public enterprises to absorb female workers, and adopt effective measures to promote women's employment in pioneer industries and emerging trades. Formulate and bring into effect employment policies favorable to women who experience difficulties in finding employment and provide more help for them in this respect. Improve policies that support women starting their own businesses, and support and help women starting their own undertakings through such measures as skills training, taxes and fees reduction or exemption, subsidized loans, and follow-up guidance.

(4) Promote full employment of female university graduates. Strengthen employment guidance, training and services oriented to female university students and help them make the right decisions for future occupations. Improve policies supporting female university students starting their own businesses, and offer training to help them to that end.

(5) Create favorable employment conditions for women experiencing difficulties in finding jobs. Bring into effect policies on public welfare jobs and help such groups as women at disadvantageous age and with disabilities. Conscientiously implement relevant legal provisions on women returning to their original posts after giving birth. Carry out such supporting provisions and policies as social insurance subsidies, training subsidies and subsidized micro-credit to help laid-off women start their own businesses or become reemployed.

(6) Improve women's employment structure. Accelerate the process of integrating urban and rural areas, and explore various channels to guide and support rural women make an orderly shift to non-agricultural industries. Improve State policies on training, evaluating and stimulating skilled talents. Strengthen the training of women's vocational skills, and raise the proportion of women among primary, medium, and high-level skilled workers. Guide women to actively participation in scientific research and technological development, and create favorable conditions for them to improve their qualifications.

(7) Fully implement the policy of equal pay for equal work for men and women. Establish a sound, scientific and rational income distribution system. Ensure that employing units offer equal remuneration to workers doing the same work, making the same amount of effort and achieving the same results.

(8) Guarantee female workers' occupational health and safety. Spread education on occupational diseases prevention and control and raise female workers' self-protection awareness, especially those without fixed employment. Strengthen administration and supervision over the hazards of occupational diseases. Include special labor protection for female workers as an important part of labor protection and labor security supervision. Strengthen labor protection for female workers, forbid employing units to assign female workers to tasks prohibitive to them, and reduce the incidence of occupational diseases among female workers.

(9) Safeguard female workers' labor rights and interests. Make continuous efforts to improve laws and regulations on female workers' labor protection and raise female workers’ self-protection awareness through education and training in laws and regulations and knowledge on labor safety and health. Regulate enterprise recruitment behavior, make the signing of labor contracts between enterprises and their employees standard practice, and encourage enterprises with trade unions to sign and fulfill special collective contracts on protecting female workers' rights and interests. Deal with violations of female workers' rights and interests according to law.

(10) Ensure rural women's land rights and interests. Carry out and improve relevant policies on protection of rural women's land rights and interests, and rectify village regulations or villagers' private agreements that violate the provisions of relevant laws and regulations. Set up and improve various rules and regulations on management of rural collective funds, assets, and resources, and push local authorities to work out measures on the distribution and use of land acquisition compensation within rural collective economic organizations, and ensure rural women enjoy gender-equal rights with respect to contracted management of land, use of housing sites and distribution of collective income.

(11) Raise rural women's income. Promote the development of agricultural production mutual-aid and cooperation organizations, expand agricultural production scales and improve operating incomes. Ensure rural women enjoy all government-stipulated agricultural subsidies. Create suitable posts for rural women while centering on the development of rural secondary and tertiary industries, such as primary processing of farm products at their site of production, and rural recreational and tourist activities. Offer training courses on practical and professional skills that are easily accessible to rural women to help both "left-behind women" (women whose husbands have moved to other regions of China to work) and women returning to their hometowns to start their own businesses or find other employment. Encourage financial institutions, enterprises and other organizations to offer, in cooperation with women's organizations, rural women-oriented financial services and relevant training.

(12) Step up support for poverty-stricken women. Develop anti-poverty measures to help impoverished women, and guarantee sufficient supply of living resources. Support poverty-stricken women in taking part in anti-poverty projects in rural areas. Offer subsidized micro-credit and capital and other preferential projects specially to urban and rural poverty-stricken women.

(Source: nwccw.gov.cn)

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