China’s Attempts to Address Gender Inequality in the Workplace
China’s top legislature has passed an amendment to the Women’s Rights and Interests Protection Law in a bid to improve gender equality in the country.
According to a statement posted on the website of the National People’s Congress of China, the revised law will see the government take steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.
Starting next year, the amendment will prohibit barring the promotion of female employees due to marriage, pregnancy, maternity leave and other workplace circumstances.
The law will also require officials from lower-level government departments to promptly report suspected cases of abduction or trafficking of women to the police.
News of the latest amendment comes just a week after the Communist Party announced the all-male composition of China’s Politburo – the second most powerful body in government and its executive policy-making body.
Zang Tiewei, spokesperson for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Legislative Affairs Committee, said the amendments will enable local governments to strengthen the protection of women’s rights.
“The review is based on in-depth research, focused on addressing thorny issues in the area of women’s rights,” Zang said.
“The National People’s Congress Standing Committee annually listened to the report of the Legal Work Committee of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on the case review work, strengthened research on constitutional issues involved in the work review of cases, and preserved the unity of the rule of law in the country.
Zang said the draft submitted by the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests to the Standing Committee proposed six major changes, including the “implementation…[of] the relevant spirit to strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of poor women, elderly women, women with disabilities and other groups in need”, regulate media reports on violations of women’s personal rights, protect women’s rights to privacy and reputation, and to “enhance the scope of public interest litigation.”
An early version of the amendment submitted last year banned employers from listing their sexual preferences in job postings or asking applicants about their marital status or pregnancy.
This draft also required companies to put in place strategies to prevent, investigate and respond to complaints relating to these matters, but did not indicate any legal ramifications for not doing so.
Zang hopes these latest amendments will “actively address the challenges posed by adjusting reproductive policies, provide support for women to better balance fertility and career, and focus on optimizing the environment for women’s development.”