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Too few women in top posts in China - official
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-09-25 07:14

China does not have enough women in positions of political power, a senior official said Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the 10th National Women's Congress, which runs from Oct 28-31 in Beijing, Huang Qingyi, vice-president of the All-China Women's Federation, said: "There needs to be more female leaders in more senior positions in China.

"And that includes the very highest leadership."

Currently, there are eight women decision makers at the national level in China and more than 230 at ministerial and provincial levels, she said.

"The numbers of senior woman leaders and their educational backgrounds and political capacity are at their highest points in history," Huang said.

Also, more than 40 percent of the country's civil servants are women, she said.

But the percentage of women decision makers is still low, she said. For example, at the 11th National People's Congress earlier this year, women accounted for just over 21 percent of the deputies, while at the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, they accounted for just under 18 percent of the members.

At the local level, women account for more than 48 percent of the members of urban residents' committees, and about 23 percent of villagers' committees, she said.

While improvements to the legal system - such as the implementation of the Constitution and the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women - have led to better rights for women, there is still a great deal of gender inequality, Huang said.

According to a survey conducted in 2005, most working women in China have weaker educational backgrounds than their male counterparts, which limits their competitiveness.

Furthermore, six out of 10 unemployed people are women, with new graduates and women aged 40-50 facing the biggest difficulties in the jobs market, it said.

In terms of education, women on average spend 7.3 years in school, 1.1 years less than the average for men.