Legal scholars yesterday urged the government to improve laws to better
protect women's rights and further eliminate discrimination.
"China still has a long way to go to solve the problems hindering gender
equality. These problems exist even in legislation," Li Mingshun, professor of
law and vice-president of Beijing's China Women's University, said during an
advocacy event organized by the UN to celebrate International Women's Day.
At the event, the UN Theme Group on Gender announced a nationwide campaign to
raise awareness of the struggle for gender equality in cooperation with the
All-China Women's Federation (ACWF).
The campaign, slated to last for three years, will allow women and men to
become familiar with the international Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination against Women.
In addition to promoting discussions on better awareness of gender equality,
panelists also discussed other challenges that women face in China.
Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator in China, said one of the particularly
acute gender issues in the country was the imbalance in the ratio of newborn
girls to boys.
"It is the manifestation of social attitudes towards gender, and may have
serious implications for the future of the country," he said.
Zou Xiaoqiao, director-general of department of international affairs of
ACWF, pointed out that attention has to be paid to women's participation in
"The ratio of female leaders in diplomatic and management positions in the
government has remained low," Zou said.
She also called for efforts to protect the rights of rural women and
guarantee equal wages.
Li's speech drew particular attention for pointing out the legal problems
which are preventing elimination of discrimination against women in China. For
example, he said, the current draft property law does not include clauses
specifying gender equality.
He added that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, which was adopted by the United Nations General
Assembly in 1979, clearly defines the term "discrimination against women".
But the definition has not been incorporated into Chinese laws, even though
China ratified it in 1980. Besides technical difficulties during the drafting of
the legislation, traditional stereotypes (against women) that exist both in mind
and action have prevented the legislation process from adopting the
international convention, he said.
He added that the public still lacks a clear recognition of the standing and
effectiveness of the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women,
promulgated in 1992 and revised in 2005.
"People tend to ignore this statute and they believe that it cannot serve as
the legal base for the judiciary and law enforcement agencies," he said.
Li said the concept of gender equality should be reflected in every law or
regulation, ensuring women's rights are protected throughout society.
(China Daily 03/09/2007 page2)