Some 80 experts and scholars from various research institutes, government departments and related institutions in China and Germany recently participated in the 2nd Sino-German Gender Equality and Development Seminar in Beijing to discuss the issues faced by women in child care and elderly care.
The participants discussed the issue from the perspectives of national policy, enterprises, society and family, and unanimously agreed that the reduction of women's family care burden requires the introduction of social services and relevant policies to support and encourage men and women to share household chores and seek mutual development.
They also exchanged views on fertility, care and family policies between China and Germany, and believe that a macro-level child care policy is the basis for safeguarding women's rights in maternity and childbirth.
Liu Bohong, a special professor at China Women's University, believes that the current birth policy and housing policy have led to a subtle change in China's gender ecology, whilst gender discrimination still exists.
She listed three distinct outcomes from fertility surveys conducted by different organizations, emphasizing the importance of incorporating a gender perspective in birth research and policy development, and also analyzed the gender blind spots in some existing laws and regulations.
Based on the experiences of some countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in their effort to promote family-work balance, Professor Yang Juhua from the School of Sociology and Population Studies of Renmin University of China expounded the social benefits and effective measures of promoting family-friendly policies.
She said that in the process of implementing family-friendly policies, some OECD countries attach importance to organizational construction, have a sound legal guarantee system, pay attention to its operability, provide sustainable support for family development and create a friendly family atmosphere through diversified and humanized projects.
Accordingly, she proposed some recommendations for the formulation and development of family-friendly policies in China.
At present, the typical Chinese family still retains the traditional gender division of labor where women still face great pressure and conflicts between family and work, which urgently requires the sharing of family care between men and women and the development of social care services.
Jiang Yongping, a researcher at the Women's Studies Institute of the All-China Women's Federation, expounded the importance of developing socialized child care services to reduce the burden of child care and career development for women, based on her nursery survey of children between 0-3 years old, which indicated that the current child care services in China are extremely insufficient compared with the situation in the 50s to 70s.
She also noted that it is necessary to reflect on the problem of excessive parenting and fastidious parenting in current society, breaking the stereotype of over-emphasizing the relationship between breastfeeding and the healthy development of children, and advocating scientific concepts of parenting.
Li Guiyan, associate professor at Shandong Women's University, analyzed the dilemma faced by men in family care, on the strength of the field investigation.
She also found out that the unfriendly gender operation mechanism practiced under the current social culture is a factor that has impact on male participation in family care. Therefore a new paternal idea should be established to promote male participation in family care.
In addition to parenting pressure, women are also the main elderly caregivers. Old women usually take care of their spouses, whilst these caregivers often find it difficult to find adequate care themselves.
Jia Yunzhu, dean of the Xieli Population and Social Development Institute of Beijing, shared her insights about the material and mental pressures faced by Chinese family caregivers and provided advice on establishing a social care system for family caregivers in the country.
The survey found that 54.8 percent of caregivers indicated that they had care pressure, which is mainly reflected in: physical exhaustion, lack of sleep; lack of free time; and lack of a stable economic income.
She also revealed that the country has also made corresponding explorations in implementing measures to support family caregivers, whilst these efforts still need to be further deepened and promoted.
Chen Xinxin, associate researcher at the Institute of Social Science Survey of Peking University, focused on the gender differences in the care arrangements for the disabled elderly in the country.
According to the China Health and Pension Tracking Survey conducted by the institute, China's elderly population has a higher proportion of women than men; female seniors are less likely to obtain family care resources than men.
In addition, the proportion of elderly women widowed is higher than that of men; they often rely more on their children's care, and are more exposed to unattended risks. They are also less able to obtain market services than men.
Thus Chen called for more attention to the special dilemmas faced by elderly women so as to provide more targeted care for them.
(Source: Wsic.ac.cn/ Translated and edited by Women of China)
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