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Gender equality in China 2020

On the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, it is of great significance to revisit the spirit of the conference and the commendable history of women's rights development in China.

The Conference, the largest ever held by the United Nations, was an important milestone in the promotion of gender equality and women's development, and had a profound impact on the global cause of promoting female development.

Since the convening of the Fourth World Conference on Women back in 1995, the Chinese government has honored its commitments by following the basic national policy on gender equality for social development and progress, to continuous improve its legal system and working mechanisms to promote women’s right and development in China with world-renowned achievements.

In 2015, China and UN women co-organized the Global Summit of Women to reaffirm their commitment to promoting gendered equality and woman empowerment, with Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over the summit to put forward proposals on promoting gender equality and female development.

Since then, the labor force participation rate of women in China has long stayed above 60%, ranking first in the world. In 2018, the number of female employees reached 340 million, and women accounted for 43.5% of all employed persons in society.

Today in China:

  • Female take up 48.8% professional and technical jobs

  • 33.4% R&D jobs, including 54.9% medical and scientific R&D jobs

  • Women accounting for 55% of entrepreneurs in the Internet sector.

  • Women has taken a quarter of leading positions in companies (comparing to the 10% in 1995)


What did China do to improve gender equality since 1995?

Addressing the poverty issues:

China has rolled out a series of poverty alleviation plans at different stages of development, implemented the poverty reduction strategy, and made significant progress in poverty reduction. The emphasis has been skew towards ensuring equal access and benefits goes to poor women.

By end of 2018, number of poor people in rural areas have reduced from 98.99 million to 16.6 million today. As well, the incidence of poverty had fallen from 10.2% to 1.7% that further shows how people are progressively walking out of poverty.


The right to education is a fundamental human right that is virtue to realize the equal development of men and women.

China has been prioritizing the development of education by promoting equal access to education and has made great headway in eliminating female illiteracy, supported by a rate of 7.5% increase in 2018 for population aged 15 and above.

Looking at the data below, more and more women have gained access to higher education:

- In 2018, the share of female university undergraduates and junior college students as a percentage of all students on higher education reached 52.5%, up 17.1% from 1995.

- The share of females in master and doctorate programs reached 51.2% and 40.4%, up 20.6% and 24.9% from1995, respectively.


Chinese government understands that enjoyment of the equal right to health is key to the well-being of women. Over the years, great attention have been put towards refining legal and policy system on this matter to protect women, which result in an increase in women’s average life expectancy, from 70.5 years in 1990 to 79.4 years in 2015.

The maternal mortality rate has continued to fall, from 61.9 per 100,000 in 1995 to 18.3 per 100,000 in 2018, achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule.


Still enormous challenges ahead

There are lots of work needed to happen in order to full implement the development goals for women outlined in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The following areas should still exist in China today

  • Discrimination against women in the job market still exists

  • Deep-seated gender stereotype which entrenches inequality between men and women still influences people's perception and behavior to varying degrees

  • Level of female representation in a decision-making and management level within an organization still needs to be raised


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