Women in Decision Making and Management
Women Village Officials All Too Rare
November 30, 2011By Yao YiquEditor: Sun Xi
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A two committee candidate makes a mock election speech at a training course. [fjsfgx.com]

A two committee candidate makes a mock election speech at a training course. [fjsfgx.com]

2011 elections took place upon expiration of terms of office on party branch committees and villager/community resident committees (known as the two committees) in village and residential communities in Guangzhou City, southern China's Guangdong Province.

This year's election upheld the rigid stipulations in The Laws of Village Committee Elections, as amended last December by Guangdong Provincial People's Congress, that each villager committee include at least one woman. Women on the two committees of villages and community residents this term grew by 6.61 percent, as compared to the 93.39 percent of committees last term that included women members. That each committee has at least one woman member represents a breakthrough.

Women village officials, however, account for just 2.28 percent of the total, according to Guangzhou Women's Federation statistics.

Although all Guangzhou village committees now have women members, they are in an extreme minority. Women on the two committees of residential communities account for 85.53 percent but those on village two committees for just 21.09 percent.

Statistics show that there are 1,562 women cadres on the two committees of villages in Guangzhou, among which 1,438 are village committee members, accounting for 92 percent. This signifies that only eight percent attained positions on village party branch committees, and that a negligible number occupy principal positions.

This term of office elected 1,015 women as secretaries of village and residential community Party branch committees—116 more than last term. The 977 women elected directors of villager/community resident committees also represented a 141 increase over last term. The 1,931 women occupying principal positions on the two committees of residential communities account for 64.98 percent of the total, but only 52 women occupy principal positions on the two committees of villages, accounting for just 2.28 percent.

A Guangzhou Municipal Women's Federation official attributes this paucity of women to common misinterpretation of the new stipulation in The Laws of Village Committee Elections.

Another major factor is the fierce competition among election candidates for places on two committees of villages in Guangzhou, it being an economically developed city.

"This signifies a great deal of obstruction in rural areas to women's political participation. Villages also constitute the main work obstacle to women entering the two committees," the official added.

Traditionally imbalanced gender values also put women at a disadvantage in these elections.

The norm in rural areas is for men to work out in the fields or in the town while women manage the household chores. Most rural women lack confidence in their ability to be village head or Party branch committee secretaries, or to manage core village affairs.

In some areas, electing a woman as village head is regarded as an insult to men residents. The few women with confidence enough to want to make a difference usually face double pressure from villagers and also their families. One woman official went so far as to reveal that women need to make more than three times the effort of men to become village officials.

Results of a questionnaire survey that Guangzhou Baiyun District Women's Federation President Jin Yan took of the 100 or more women village official candidates taking part in the Art of Women Village Official's Political Participation training course last December shows that women village officials generally have strong self-confidence but many concerns.

Of the women surveyed, 64 percent believed that competence and a good mass base are crucial to village official elections, and 99 percent said that their families were supportive of their work. The majority, however, felt under great pressure and found the work onerous, 20 per cent of whom attributed it to insufficient understanding and support from other village officials and villagers.

The survey also found that there was high awareness among women village officials of the need for political participation, but many had reservations about running for the next general election. Most said they would continue to run for elections as members of village and residential community committees, and 28 percent that they would run for the position of secretary of the village party branch committee or the village head (director of the villagers' committee).

Women's Federations at all levels in Guangzhou attach great importance to this issue, and consider it an evaluation of their work. They have done much to improve the situation, namely by launching various training courses and commissioning expert help to improve their knowledge of legal policies, work procedures, and election skills, and to enhance their management and decision-making capacity.

The gap between the two genders in political participation is nonetheless growing. The international ranking of Chinese women's political participation situation slid from 12th in 1994 to 28th in 2002 to 56th this year.

"It's not that we don't attach great importance to the issue, only that other countries have given it more attention," Jin said. The mainstreaming of social gender is on the rise in international society. Jin believes efforts in all channels to improve women's political participation must be redoubled.

"The government should consider women social group of that is a main human resource, and openly explore, train, elect and appoint them. A talent base for women cadres and a mechanism favoring women should also be built to promote better quality women officials," Jin added.

(Source: nf.nfdaily.cn/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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Women Village Officials All Too Rare

  • November 30, 2011
  • By Yao Yiqu
  • Editor: Sun Xi
  • Change Text Size: A  A  A

A two committee candidate makes a mock election speech at a training course. [fjsfgx.com]

A two committee candidate makes a mock election speech at a training course. [fjsfgx.com]

2011 elections took place upon expiration of terms of office on party branch committees and villager/community resident committees (known as the two committees) in village and residential communities in Guangzhou City, southern China's Guangdong Province.

This year's election upheld the rigid stipulations in The Laws of Village Committee Elections, as amended last December by Guangdong Provincial People's Congress, that each villager committee include at least one woman. Women on the two committees of villages and community residents this term grew by 6.61 percent, as compared to the 93.39 percent of committees last term that included women members. That each committee has at least one woman member represents a breakthrough.

Women village officials, however, account for just 2.28 percent of the total, according to Guangzhou Women's Federation statistics.

Although all Guangzhou village committees now have women members, they are in an extreme minority. Women on the two committees of residential communities account for 85.53 percent but those on village two committees for just 21.09 percent.

Statistics show that there are 1,562 women cadres on the two committees of villages in Guangzhou, among which 1,438 are village committee members, accounting for 92 percent. This signifies that only eight percent attained positions on village party branch committees, and that a negligible number occupy principal positions.

This term of office elected 1,015 women as secretaries of village and residential community Party branch committees—116 more than last term. The 977 women elected directors of villager/community resident committees also represented a 141 increase over last term. The 1,931 women occupying principal positions on the two committees of residential communities account for 64.98 percent of the total, but only 52 women occupy principal positions on the two committees of villages, accounting for just 2.28 percent.

A Guangzhou Municipal Women's Federation official attributes this paucity of women to common misinterpretation of the new stipulation in The Laws of Village Committee Elections.

Another major factor is the fierce competition among election candidates for places on two committees of villages in Guangzhou, it being an economically developed city.

"This signifies a great deal of obstruction in rural areas to women's political participation. Villages also constitute the main work obstacle to women entering the two committees," the official added.

Traditionally imbalanced gender values also put women at a disadvantage in these elections.

The norm in rural areas is for men to work out in the fields or in the town while women manage the household chores. Most rural women lack confidence in their ability to be village head or Party branch committee secretaries, or to manage core village affairs.

In some areas, electing a woman as village head is regarded as an insult to men residents. The few women with confidence enough to want to make a difference usually face double pressure from villagers and also their families. One woman official went so far as to reveal that women need to make more than three times the effort of men to become village officials.

Results of a questionnaire survey that Guangzhou Baiyun District Women's Federation President Jin Yan took of the 100 or more women village official candidates taking part in the Art of Women Village Official's Political Participation training course last December shows that women village officials generally have strong self-confidence but many concerns.

Of the women surveyed, 64 percent believed that competence and a good mass base are crucial to village official elections, and 99 percent said that their families were supportive of their work. The majority, however, felt under great pressure and found the work onerous, 20 per cent of whom attributed it to insufficient understanding and support from other village officials and villagers.

The survey also found that there was high awareness among women village officials of the need for political participation, but many had reservations about running for the next general election. Most said they would continue to run for elections as members of village and residential community committees, and 28 percent that they would run for the position of secretary of the village party branch committee or the village head (director of the villagers' committee).

Women's Federations at all levels in Guangzhou attach great importance to this issue, and consider it an evaluation of their work. They have done much to improve the situation, namely by launching various training courses and commissioning expert help to improve their knowledge of legal policies, work procedures, and election skills, and to enhance their management and decision-making capacity.

The gap between the two genders in political participation is nonetheless growing. The international ranking of Chinese women's political participation situation slid from 12th in 1994 to 28th in 2002 to 56th this year.

"It's not that we don't attach great importance to the issue, only that other countries have given it more attention," Jin said. The mainstreaming of social gender is on the rise in international society. Jin believes efforts in all channels to improve women's political participation must be redoubled.

"The government should consider women social group of that is a main human resource, and openly explore, train, elect and appoint them. A talent base for women cadres and a mechanism favoring women should also be built to promote better quality women officials," Jin added.

(Source: nf.nfdaily.cn/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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