Chinese lawmakers seek more protection for women

Chinese lawmakers seek more protection for women
A female pedestrian walks at Beijing's Central Business District.

CHINA - National People's Congress deputies are urging the government to draw up regulations and policies to prevent gender discrimination in the labour market.

According to a recent survey conducted by the All-China Women's Federation, 56.7 per cent of female university graduates said their chances of landing a job is slimmer compared to male counterparts. The federation said female job hunters in urban areas are four times more likely to be turned for a job than men.

Deputies at the 12th NPC in Beijing suggested that gender stereotypes and insufficient regulations protecting women are still major obstacles in the country despite progress in the fight against workplace inequality.

"Many employers turn women applicants down because they think the company will have to pay for extra allowances or provide more days off for pregnancy and motherhood," said Xu Xiao, an NPC deputy who was in Beijing to attend the top legislature's annual session last week.

"The government should come up with an anti-discrimination employment regulation and provide preferential policies to companies that recruit a certain percentage of female workers, such as tax breaks and subsidies."

Xu, from Henan province, said the government should establish more child-care centers and community service centers that are affiliated with companies to provide assistance to their female employees.

Last year, 7 million graduates entered the job market, 200,000 more than in 2012. With job opportunities becoming increasingly scarce in major cities of China, Xu said it has been especially challenging for female college graduates when they look for a job.

Many companies tend to offer jobs only to men because of the false assumption that women are less able to cope with pressure, which is gender discrimination, Xu said.

"The government should be stricter against gender discrimination in the labour market and issue more severe penalties for gender discrimination in the job market," said Xu.

Lin Yinmao, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People's Congress and also an NPC deputy, said the government should include statistics on gender into their national statistics. Data on women in the labour market, Lin said, would better reflect their positive impact and contributions and possibly help the country's top lawmakers when they make policy decisions.

Luo Ning, a deputy to the 12th NPC from Guizhou province, emphasised the importance of providing more job opportunities to women in rural areas.

"The government should provide them with more job opportunities to help them overcome poverty," she said.

Luo said the women's federation in Guizhou has helped women turn traditional dyeing and embroidery techniques into a source of income.

"Many people used to consider going to the cities for work as the best option for someone from mountainous areas like Guizhou, but not anymore," she said.

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