CHINA / National

Poverty alleviation targets gender inequality
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-12 05:57

China will pay more attention to gender mainstreaming and forming gender-sensitive policies in the development of the new countryside, said a senior official from the State Council yesterday.

The population of poor women in China's rural areas decreased to 23 million at the end of 2005. In 1994 the figure stood at 35 million, said Wang Guoliang, vice-director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

"Great progress has been achieved in poverty alleviation for Chinese women in many fields, including improvements in education, employment and social participation, when compared to 10 years ago," said Wang at a high-level workshop, co-organized by the poverty alleviation group, the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank (ADB).

It is the first workshop in recent years organized by China's poverty alleviation system that highlights the relationship between gender dimensions and poverty reduction, he noted.

Gender equality, which is a basic national policy, has been written in China's Constitution for more than 50 years, stating that women enjoy equal rights with men in politics, economy, culture, society and family life.

The Chinese Government is implementing an ambitious programme to help reduce poverty in 592 poor counties, which involves the lives of 100 million people (half of whom are women), officials said.

However, gender inequality is still very common in many poor rural areas in China, said Bettina Gransow, a professor from the Free University in Berlin, in a keynote speech.

The gender dimensions of poverty in China are largely under-diagnosed in official statistics since many figures are collected on a household basis without making gender distinctions, said a report conducted by ADB.

The absence of gender in poverty statistics makes it difficult for the government to give their anti-poverty strategy a gender dimension, said the professor.

Men are dominant in migration out of the countryside, as a result there is an increasing feminization of agriculture in rural areas; and women are also playing predominant roles in the household, echoed Yiching Song, a gender expert from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who headed a field investigation in early 2004.

In forming gender-sensitive policies, China will assess the impact of poverty alleviation strategies and activities using the experiences of advanced foreign nations, said Wang.

(China Daily 04/12/2006 page2)