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Economic slowdown hits China's women workers
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-29 09:38

A United Nations study has found that China's young women migrant workers have been hit hardest by the economic downturn.

The crisis has severely impacted the export-oriented hubs of China's coastal region, said Max Tunon, a consultant for the International Labour Organization.

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"Millions of young women working in these factories have been laid off or had their hours and wages slashed," he said.

"After overcoming the initial challenges of moving to the city, young female migrants do not wish to return home.

"There are few employment opportunities at home and most young people are very reluctant to work on the land."

An estimated 20 million migrants are looking for work, and women migrants have felt a greater impact on job stability, working hours, wages and benefits, the study found.

Economic slowdown hits China's women workers

Liu Bohong, deputy director-general of the Women's Studies Institute of China, said the financial crisis and subsequent loss of income has increased pressure on families with sometimes terrible consequences, such as a rise in domestic violence.

Liu emphasized the need to further promote women's education and training and to boost government support in public services to minimize the uneven gender impact of the crisis.

The research was conducted between January and February and involved 533 questionnaires in Hunan province and 686 in Fujian province.

It is part of the International Labour Organization's gender equality campaign and was jointly conducted with the All-China Women's Federation.

The key findings include an imbalance of skill levels between young male and female workers in job recruiting, an increasing number of migrants within the provinces and the development of more formal channels for job-seekers.

In previous years most job-seeking was done through social networks like friends and family, Tunon said. While social networks are still where the majority of people find jobs, more are turning to formal channels like job fairs as the labor market tightens.

But the formal channels offer many jobs for people with higher-level skills, and many women fall short of the requirements.

The organization has advised the government to improve access to training for young women, in addition to training for business start-up and credit.