Chinese women's lives : rhetoric and reality

Riley, Nancy E.
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Honolulu: East-West Center
Ever since the Chinese Communists promised to make women equal partners in the revolution, the country has been closely watched for its record on women's status. China's accomplishments are notable. After centuries of discrimination against them, women are now virtually equal under the law, have a prominent role in the work force, and are increasingly well educated. Yet women, especially in rural areas, remain subordinate to men in nearly all aspects of their lives. They are segregated in the work force, dominated by patriarchal families, and are more likely than males to remain illiterate and undereducated. Moreover, China's economic deregulation is exposing women to additional job discrimination, and the country's growing affluence has reintroduced such pre-Communist scourges as prostitution and the abduction and sale of women. In response, the government has announced a five-year plan to improve women's status and stop abuses, including a significant and growing incidence of female infanticide. But to be successful, the plan must move beyond rhetoric, and address the fundamental Chinese ambivalence about the value of women.
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