A gender equality review mechanism — a way to continuously ensure that laws and regulations support gender neutrality and equality between the sexes — should be developed and implemented within China's existing Legislation Law, said two policymakers in a meeting held in Beijing on December 23, 2014.
Chen Xiurong, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) — China's top legislature — and NPC deputy Wu Hongqin put forth the proposition in the hopes of further promoting the basic principle of China's constitution and the country's basic state policy — gender equality — with such a future amendment.
The December meeting marked the second time that the top legislature was to review the Legislation Law of the People's Republic of China, which was adopted in 2000. The first review occurred on August 25, 2014.
Chen said that a process to examine and assess gender equality should be carried out throughout the entire law-making process. She recommended that an article be added to the draft: Throughout the process of analyzing, evaluating and assessing laws and rules, proper focus should be given to their impact on both men and women.
Chen pointed to the 2014 amendment to the Social Assistance Act as an example: On the advice of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), the 2014 amendment stipulates that all eligible family members have the right to apply for a minimum living allowance as a way to guarantee the rights of their family's female members.
"With respect to cases of inequality or to particular sections that could potentially lead to injustice down the road, [a gender equality review mechanism] could adjust the legislation in a timely manner to avoid gender discrimination inflicted by improperly worded articles of a law," said Chen. "Such a system is both practical and necessary."
Chen's colleague Wu, also president of the Fujian Women's Federation, said that an amendment to the Legislation Law should highlight "an adherence to the basic national policy of gender equality and the prioritization of children's issues."
"[The second review of the draft amendment] fully reflects the spirit of making law in a scientific and democratic way and represents a further step in the improvement of China's legal system," said Wu.
Though China's laws and constitution have the fundamental aim of guaranteeing the rights of women and children in politics, economy, culture, society and family life, Wu admitted that there is still a long way to go before China can say that true gender equality has been realized.
"In reality, some of the laws and regulations are not being fully implemented, leading to discrimination against women and neglect of children's rights," said Wu, citing some rural-community-adopted regulations that openly violate women's rights and interests.
On the other hand, the introduction of a gender review mechanism within the law, Wu said, will help prevent or even eliminate the violation of the rights of women and children from the very beginning.
To this end, Wu urges women's federations to participate in contribute toward the amendment of the Legislation Law. Moreover, the draft amendment stipulates that NPC agencies must provide feedback in response to the advice of organizations and individuals.
"[The amended legislation] would give non-governmental organizations such as women's federations more room and leverage to further influence legislation going forward," said Wu.
The NPC had on its agenda the making of an amendment to the Legislation Law ever since the requirement of such was put forth by the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in late 2012 and the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013.
(Source: fjwomen.org.cn/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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