torsdag 22. september 2022

Female Representation in the Chinese Leadership Prior to the Party Congress

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has consistently declared that the “equality of men and women” should be a key feature that distinguishes the new Communist state from “old China.” Prejudice––and discrimination—against women in Chinese Confucian society undoubtedly dies hard. But the Mao-era slogan, “Women hold up half the sky,” seemed to reaffirm that the improvement of the socio-economic status of women in the PRC should be considered “one of the least controversial of legacies” of CCP rule, as a BBC reporter observed almost a decade ago.

It is perhaps also just as uncontroversial within the China studies community to assert that female representation in the Party leadership has always been inadequate or even negligible. As Valarie Tan, a Singaporean analyst, has bluntly asserted, “Women hold up half the sky, but men rule the Party.” Women are significantly underrepresented at all levels of the Chinese leadership. 

Women account for 48.7 percent of the population and 44.5 percentof the labor force in present-day China. There are 30 women among the 376 full and alternate members of the Central Committee (7.9 percent). Only one woman serves on the current 25-member Politburo (4 percent), and no woman has ever served on the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the supreme decision-making body in the country.