Report on Gender Discrimination in Shanghai, China Essay
In this paper, gender discrimination is to be understood as the treatment based on the sexual identity in relation to society and culture rather than individual merit, practicing partiality over a certain group. (Answers Corporation, 2006)Gender discrimination in Shanghai, ChinaFor women in China, the world is not a fair place.
While it is undeniable that females has gained social, economic and political rights since 1949, China’s rapid and massive transformation seems to be repelling Chinese women backwards rather than forwards. This trend can be seen even in China’s most globalised city, Shanghai.
As aptly said by Liu Bohong, the vice director of the women studies institute under the All-China Women’s Federation, “Gender inequality is everywhere: from selective abortions to employers’ preferences for male graduates.”This can be shown through the employment rates of female and male graduates in Shanghai.
Employment is essential for a steady income, and with a bias against females, the quality and standard of living for said gender will be significantly lower than its counterpart.
According to a survey published by the Shanghai Women’s Federation in 2004, only 8.7 percent out of the 21.7 percent female job applicants who wish to work in government agencies were successful in their application, lower than 11.
7 percent of male graduates.The survey, which questioned 1000 graduates from 10 local universities, felt that they were discriminated against while seeking jobs. Furthermore, apart from the biased employment rates between the genders, representatives of female graduates from 10 local universities said at a panel discussion held by the federation that discrimination is also reflected in salaries, with male graduates having an average income of 2,706 yuan (US$330) and women receiving 2,441 yuan (US$300). (China Daily, 9 August 2004)Also, discrimination also takes place in the workplace.
Equal rights should be given within a workplace and favour should be based on merit and not on gender. Though the Constitution has implemented policies to mandate equal rights for both genders, like the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women in 1992 for example, but these measures taken have proved to be largely ineffective. This can be attributed to the failure of such laws to change in the employment environment and absence of detailed enforcement terms and punishment for violations. For example, regular gynecological checkups, the cost of which the employer is supposed to cover, are often not conducted.
(Wang Zhiyong, 22 March 2004) However, a lack of enforcement of the law allows employers to get away scot-free, increasing the vulnerability of women. The Chinese law emphasizes protective legislation premised on biological differences between men and women. However, though the legislation provides benefits for women workers, it also results in bias towards hiring male workers who are not eligible for such benefits. This reflects roots in conventional patriarchal and hierarchical Confucian principles that define a woman’s primary obligation as the perpetuation of the family, or more specifically, producing and wisely raising a male descendent.
(C.M. Bulger) Furthermore, it is a recurring occurrence for women to be laid off first should retrenchment arise. Liu Ping, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions’ (ACFTU) deputy division director on women’s rights, told China Daily that businesses have begun to calculate the costs of laborers, and women are the first to be considered surplus.
Hence, while the law states that genders are equal, which was also earlier proclaimed by Mao Zedong: They (women) “hold up half of the sky”, actual practice depicts the continuing occurrence of inequality between male and female in the Chinese society.One-Child PolicyThe one-child policy established by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 was implemented to limit China’s population, and will continue through the 2006-2010 five year planning period. The policy was introduced to ensure that China, historically prone of famine and floods, was able to feed its people. The one child certificate was introduced to allow parents and their child to enjoy economic and educational advantages in exchange for a written agreement in not having more than one child.
However, by mid-1980s, less than twenty percent of eligible couple signed this contract. Throughout the 1980s, nearly half of all reported births were second, third, or higher order births. Various surveys suggested that the desire to have at least two children remained strong among Chinese couples (Tien, et al 1992, p.11).
This clearly indicates the failure of the one child policy and shows that government policies cannot fully push demographic changes. Also, there was strong resistance from the people, especially those in rural areas.One-Child Policy’s Links to Gender Discrimination in Shanghai, ChinaDiscrimination against the female sex remains the primary cause of China’s growing newborn gender imbalance, with an average of 123 boys being born for every 100 girls, a researcher in women’s studies said on Friday. (Xinhua News, 17 December 2006) Comparing this to the ratio 110:100 of boys and girls in 2005 and the international average of 100:104-107, it is clear that the tradition preference for boys is still very much evident within the country.
Foetus gender diagnosis was outlawed to prevent abortion of female unborn child as only a minority mourns for loss of female fetuses through abortion.With the implementation of outlawing foetus gender diagnosis, adoptions rose sharply to over 500,000 in 1987, as compared to fewer than 200,000 before the one child policy. Also, the contrasting low sex ratios of 27 to 36 boys per 100 girls indicated a trend for parents to give away girls, a practice intensified under the one child stipulation. (Tien, et al 1996, pp.
15-17)Furthermore, girls in China received far less attention and resources than boys, reducing chances of survival pass their first year; and hitting girls most adversely in the poorest areas. (Tien, et al 1996, pp.16-17).Moreover, a worrying report of infanticide occurring in China due to the inability of couples to have male babies has resulted in 500,000 “missing” girls in China.
Hence, it is undeniable that with the one-child policy, gender discrimination is further entrenched into the society and the trend of favouring males over females is deeply ingrained in China.Results of our survey and analysisTo have a better understanding of the severity of the gender disparity situation in Shanghai, we conducted a survey within students of our age at the high school affiliated to the Shanghai Jiaotong University, which was where we were attached to at the end of last year for two weeks. A total of 200 students were surveyed, of which 100 were females and 100 were males.After each question, we would provide the results (represented in pie-chart form) and an analysis of the answers given, and at the end of the result analysis we would provide a summary of the results and our insights gained from conducting this survey.
Tabulated resultsQuestion 1Would you choose your child’s gender? If yes, please state the gender preferred.Male students:Female Students:From this question we hoped primarily to find out if the students themselves actually have a preferred child sex deeply within their hearts. This fundamentally constitutes why the question of gender disparity rose in the first place.As the results have shown, the bulk of the majority has no preference over the gender of their child, and would like to go with nature.
However, there are remaining students who would prefer one gender over the other, but they have orally provided us reasons such as ‘Girls are closer to fathers’, to quote a male student.Question 2Supposing the one child policy is still in place then, what will you do if you find out that the gender of your child is not what you wanted? (This should be after you have a stable income and partner.)Male students:Female studentsThrough this question, we hoped to find out what decision the students would make in a time of difficult choice. The results have shown that 0% of the male students would abort the child, while a small minority of 2% would give birth to the child then give him/her away.
98% of them would keep the child and raise him/her. However, we notice that 8% of the female students said that they are likely to abort the child. The larger majority would raise the child.Question 3On a scale from 0 – 6, please rank the seriousness of the situation of the imbalance of sexes in Shanghai (in the favour of the males), with 0 being the least and 6 the most.
Male students:Female students:In this question we have seen a more varied pie-chart, but the majority of the students have answered that the situation of gender disparity is not serious (mostly ranking it at 0-3). 13% of them actually think there isn’t such a situation at all, stating that the reason for the imbalance of gender is highly due to biological and natural reasons.Question 4Do you think that the one child policy has influenced the imbalance between the sexes in Shanghai?Male students:Female studentsMajority of the students do not think that the one child policy has influenced the imbalance between the sexes in Shanghai. However, 17.
5% of the students think it has somewhat influenced the imbalance, particularly in the older generations.Overall summary of the resultsThrough the results of this survey one can draw the conclusion that the younger generation of residents in Shanghai do not find that the situation of gender disparity is that large a problem, and they themselves would not encourage such a situation.However, therein lies the boundary of this survey. Conducted in one of the most developed cities in China, mindsets of the citizens have largely shifted to being more modernized and even more western, this can be seen particularly in the younger generations.
Most have taken a more rational approach to the situation, stating that the gender of the child is something that is not supposed to be in their control, and that they would not go through extremist measures such as abortion just to ensure the gender of their child is their preferred one. In fact, the bulk of them do not have a so-called ‘preferred gender’, as they feel that ‘heaven would decide the gender of their child, not them’. They have also raised their concern about studies pointing out the situation of gender disparity in modern china, because they do not think that this generation of Chinese is still practicing such insular and old-fashioned values. They believe that any difference in percentile is largely due to biological reasons, which proves that they are more driven by science than by believes such as ‘my male child can help me carry on the family name’.
We believe that if this survey has been conducted in a less developed part of China, very different results might be observed.Proposed SuggestionsWe believe in some way or another, gender discrimination will still persist within any given country and hence our suggestions are mainly to alleviate gender discrimination within China to less dangerous levels (i.e. infanticide).
Firstly, we feel that the one child policy in China should be abolished. Though this idea might not be able to eradicate gender discrimination in China, we feel that the desperate need for just a male baby will not be as strong as the people will then be required to have more babies, hence reducing the number of cases of infanticide.The main objective of the one child policy is to reduce the population of China. With this in mind, it is possible to deem the policy ineffective.
Though statistics has shown that China did decrease in population soon after the policy was implemented in 1979, this was due to the demographic transition China was experiencing. Furthermore, it was shown that many Chinese couples were still keen on having two children even with benefits given to them should they only have one child. This resulted in these couples choosing between having a boy or a girl for a child as they were not given the freedom to have both. Many choose boys, which caused gender discrimination within China today.
Hence, by abolishing the one child policy, we feel that more equal favour will be given to both genders.Secondly, another suggestion is to introduce courses made compulsory for all Chinese to attend to eradicate the mentality of males being the stronger gender and educate the people, especially those in the rural areas, of family control and disadvantages of having too many children.As our surveys show that the deeply rooted impression of males as the stronger gender is fading in the new generation, or at least is true in Shanghai, we feel that providing courses to completely remove all such ideas will be the final blow to erase extreme gender discrimination in Shanghai.Also, we understand through the course of our research, that rural areas tend to have larger families for extra hands on the field, whereas more urbanized areas like Shanghai are slowly but surely contracting the cancer of women marrying later and hence have lesser kids at a more advanced age, or totally deciding not to have children at all for they see them as a burden.
Thus, we feel that education on family control can be targeted at the group that requires it the most to be able to exercise its full potential.Though more help on the field might lead to more profits, an increase in the number of children will mean more mouths to feed and so the profits may be used to buy more food and the effect will hence be neutralized or even reversed, where the family may be running a deficit due to the lack of funds and excess of members within a household. Hence, by enlightening people from the rural areas about such disadvantages about having too many children, they might feel the need to use protection, reducing the number of children they have and thus the population in China can be contained even with the absence of the one child policy, or for the rural areas, “two child policy”,