The China Programme’s Impact on Women’s Rights in China: A Spotlight on International Women’s Day

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Welcome to our blog, the Human Righter. We shed light on contemporary human rights issues and comment on human rights developments. We dig deep into our focus areas within human rights, discuss SDGs and human rights. You will also find book reviews and analyses of new laws.

This blog post was written by Parnia Sanna Hamdollazedeh, Intern at Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s China Programme.

For more than two decades, RWI has worked to strengthen academic institutions and networks for the promotion and protection of human rights in China. Today, on International Women’s Day, we would like to highlight the impact of our work on gender equality and women’s rights.

RWI advances human rights through knowledge. Our China Programme has generally focused on education and learning activities, with gender equality objectives and women’s human rights integrated throughout. Measures have been taken to ensure gender equality in the selection of resource persons, academic faculty, student body and other participants. Female participation and leadership has been high, with women taking an active and leading role in many projects.

In addition to mainstreaming gender equality objectives throughout the China Programme, we have supported targeted activities and projects focused on anti-discrimination and women’s human rights.

For example, RWI has partnered with the Constitutionalism Research Institute at China University of Political Science and Law to provide teachers at 60 universities with gender and human rights teacher training, many of whom are now teaching on this topic at their respective universities. In 2020, RWI supported a publication co-authored by a group of Chinese academics and practitioners marking the 25th anniversary of the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995.

Gender inequality remains a persistent problem in China, underscored by recent reports revealing a widening pay gap. This data paints a stark picture, indicating that women earn a staggering 70% less than their male counterparts. In terms of political representation, China’s 20th Politburo, the Communist Party’s centre of power, is the first since 1997 where not a single woman was appointed to any of the 24 member spots. Violence against women also remains rife. Several of the most widely circulated news stories on social media in recent years have been cases of cases of gender-based violence and trafficking in women, prompting people to demand that the government seriously address these systemic issues.

The journey towards gender equality in China still has a long way to go. Through our China Programme and in cooperation with our Chinese university partners, we have contributed to the creation of a field of study that barely existed in China before, that is the study of gender and human rights. There is an increased capacity to teach courses on various aspects of international human rights law, including gender and human rights, at dozens of universities in China. Networks of gender and anti-discrimination researchers have been established, providing input to policy processes and several notable cases of litigation in China.

To learn more about RWI’s work on anti-discrimination, gender equality and women’s rights in China, please visit our China Programme webpage.

Featured image: UN Photo/Milton Grant

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