Vice President and Member of the Secretariat of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) Meng Xiaosi at a meeting in Beijing on March 7, 2014 [Women of China/Fan Wenjun]
The second session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) held its third plenary meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on the morning of March 8. Vice President and Member of the Secretariat of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) Meng Xiaosi attended the meeting and gave a speech entitled "Strengthening Regulation on Labor Market and Promoting Gender Equality in Employment".
In the speech, Meng said that employment was vital to giving people a better life and ensuring national security. Equal Employment is an effective way of obtaining the economic independence of women, and of achieving self-worth and comprehensive development. It is not only an objective requirement for the development of deepening reform, but also an important criterion to measure social progress. China's relevant laws clearly state that women and men should enjoy equal labor rights. The promotion of fair employment has long been pursued by our government, particularly in the policy document last year "On the Employment of College Graduates" issued by the State Council, which clearly stated for the first time the desire to strengthen supervision on the human resource market and promptly correct gender discrimination and other types of employment discrimination.
In real life however, due to a lack of necessary supervision, many types of employment discrimination still occur. On February 14 this year, female students made a sensation on the Internet by openly calling for equal employment. The news drew a lot of attention, which reflected the embarrassing situation currently faced by women in employment. According to the Third Survey on Chinese Women's Social Status, jointly carried out by the ACWF and the National Bureau of Statistics, 56.7 percent of female students feel, when it comes to job hunting, that "girls have fewer opportunities than boys"; women who feel they have not been hired or promoted because of their gender are 4.3 times as many as men in the same situation in cities and towns. Some employers often raise the employment standards for women despite the national law's "prescribed requirements".
The causes of gender inequality in employment and recruitment are complex. They concern both the overall development of economic and employment pressures, and are closely related to the lack of regulation in the labor market. Employers prefer men in recruitment due to cost issues, including the economic and time costs of maternity leave, making female labors seem like a "reserve" force in the work place. This preference is embodied by the evaluation of professional competency standards. Women's advantages are that they are tough, loyal, careful, thoughtful, coordinative, stable and easy-going, and these are not acknowledged by the job market. Gender discrimination in employment not only causes abnormal development and a huge waste of human talent, but they shackle women's life choices and dreams. It secretly erodes social fairness and justice and breeds privilege, differentiation and numbness, affecting the whole of society.
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) clearly claimed to adhere to the basic state policy of gender equality. As a "Decision" made by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC National Congress, China is to eliminate institutional barriers and discrimination in terms of urban and rural areas, industry, identity, and gender in employment, to provide strong support for policies to promote gender equality in employment. We hereby put forward four proposals on good government functions, eliminating discrimination in employment, and promotion of equality in employment.
First, strengthen regulation in labor markets. The different levels of government should effectively implement the "Employment Promotion Law," develop "Implementation Rules for Employment Promotion Law" as soon as possible to further improve supervision mechanisms to promote equal employment, implement fair employment laws, strengthen the supervision of employers' behavior in the labor market when it comes to recruiting people, generalize beneficial experiences of women at home and abroad in promoting equal employment, and protect women's equal access to economic opportunities and resources.
Second, continue to improve maternity insurance. We suggest that concerned government departments further improve the relevant maternity insurance system, improve overall fertility level, emphasize the government's responsibility in maternity insurance and reduce employers' burdens. Actively explore the implementation of paid care leave for men to guide men and women to take on family responsibility together, to create conditions for the full release of female talent and potential.
Third, formulate and improve relevant laws. Given the difficulty in litigation filing and hearing, and other problems of employment discrimination, we propose amendments to improve the "Provisions of Cause of Action in Civil Cases", expand the scope of sex discrimination in employment, set the inversion principle of burden of proof in gender discrimination cases, make clear the minimum compensation standards in gender discrimination in employment, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of citizens who have suffered gender discrimination in employment, and provide legal aid or judicial relief for poor women.
Fourth, promote fair employment across the whole of society. Discrimination and prejudice are often found in people's attitudes and practices among the social system, and they are far too easily ignored or tolerated. We propose to strengthen the oversight role of media and social organizations in terms of anti-discrimination to promote gender equality concepts of civilization and progress, justly oppose gender discrimination in employment and inequality clauses, and create an equality-based social environment for men and women's development.
(Women of China)
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