By Yunmei Li, In-Country Consultant China
Women in the Workplace
According to Zhilian Investigation Report on the Present Situation of Chinese Women’s Workplace in 2017, Chinese female workers earn 22% less than their male counterparts, 11.5% of women lose promotion opportunities during the marriage and child-bearing period, and 81% women have experienced, or are experiencing gender bias in the workplace.
According to LeanIn China’s report, Women, Work, and Happiness: Impact of Women in the Workplace in a Digital Age, only 27.66% of women thought there were equal opportunities between men and women, compared to 56.50% of men who thought so.
In hard reaching places like the countryside and minority groups, girls at a younger age are suffering from son preference, meaning their parents wish they were boys, child marriage, teen pregnancy, lack of self-confidence, and many more challenges. According to data from UN Women China office, every 7.3 seconds, there is a woman abused at home, usually by her husband. 1 in every 3 women has experienced domestic violence, even though China has issued and enacted a law against domestic violence in 2016.
What Needs to Change?
But I personally think the most widespread challenge for girls in China is the unbalanced education based on traditional gender roles, which means girls don’t believe in themselves. Without that self-confidence, girls are confined to the world they are surrounded by and think that’s the only way girls can be – even with opportunities to change.
I’ve seen girls wearing pink dresses not because they want to, but because everyone else does. I’ve seen talented girls give up STEM just because there are not many girls in the field. There are too many girls being called ‘leftovers’, living in anxiety because her friends are all married or have children. There are too many moms struggling to keep up with their career while feeling guilty for not resigning from work as others do. There are too many ‘how others are living their lives’ affecting how girls really think. That is unfair, unbalanced, and unsustainable.
Maria Guimaraes, the Asia Pacific Regional Strategic Cooperation Expert of UN Women said women leadership is not a nice thing to have, but the only fundamental and sustainable way to drive the world change.
We need to create a girl-friendly and gender equal world for Chinese girls to be educated correctly – helping them find their inner strength to believe in themselves so they can lead their own lives and drive future social change.