Gender equality, children first — “bright spots” of national programs for women’s development and child development

China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO) Holds a Press Conference on China’s National Women’s Development Program (2021-2030) and China’s National Child Development Program (2021-2030) on September 27.

China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO) held a press conference on September 27, during which several Chinese government officials released information on China’s National Women’s Development Program (2021 -2030) and China’s National Child Development Program (2021-2030) (both programs). Huang Xiaowei, Deputy Director of the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, Secretary of the Group of Members of the Leading Party (Communist Party of China), and Vice President and First Member of the All-China Federation Secretariat of Women (ACWF), gave a speech. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

Dedicated to both pursuing happiness for the Chinese people and realizing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the CPC (Chinese Communist Party) over the past century has pursued the liberation and development of women and children. Since the release and implementation of the 2011-2020 versions of the two programs, and especially since the 18th CPC National Congress was held in Beijing in November 2012, the CPC Central Committee has paid great attention to improving the work relating to women and children. For example, the reports to the 18th CPC National Congress and the 19th CPC National Congress (held in October 2017) both stated, “We should adhere to the basic national policy of gender equality and protect the legitimate rights and interests women and minors.”

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has made a series of important remarks on the development of women and children, as well as family building, in recent years. Every year on International Women’s Day (March 8), Xi sends best wishes and encouragement to women, and does the same for children every International Children’s Day (June 1). Over the past decade, Xi has presented China’s proposals on promoting women’s and children’s development at many important international conferences. All showed the general secretary’s concern for women and children. Xi’s remarks and proposals provided fundamental guidance for improving work related to women and children in the new era.

Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, China has achieved the first century goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. During the historic cause, China has achieved virtually all the goals set in the 2011-2020 versions of the two programs, and has achieved the following historic achievements in promoting the development of women and children:

China has made progress in achieving gender equality and promoting women’s comprehensive development. The country has given full play to the unique role of women in promoting national economic and social development. As the Chinese saying goes, “women hold half the sky”. Women have played an equal role with men in the fight against poverty and COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus disease). Women have also fought with their male peers in various fields, including rural revitalization and technological innovation; and

China has given priority to promoting healthy growth and healthy development of children. The children’s health continued to improve. Infant and under-5 mortality rates are 5.4 per 1,000 and 7.5 per 1,000, respectively, compared to 13.1 per 1,000 and 16.4 per 1,000 in 2010, respectively . In addition, children have better access to education. For example, the nine-year compulsory education completion rate rose from 91.1% in 2010 to 95.2%.

In order to promote the implementation of the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the National Working Committee on Children and Women (NWCCW), under the State Council, has developed the two programs. Managers conducted extensive research (at the local level) to find out the needs of women and children. The executives also solicited opinions and suggestions from various departments, experts (in various fields), people working to promote the development of women and children, and Chinese netizens.

China’s National Women’s Development Program (2021-2030) sets out 75 main goals and 93 strategies and measures to promote various aspects of women’s lives, including health, education, economy, participation in decision making and management, social security, family building, environment and law. China’s Child Development Program (2021-2030) sets out 70 main goals and 89 strategies and measures to promote various aspects of children’s lives, including health, safety, education, well-being, family, environment and legal protection. Compared to the two programs implemented between 2011 and 2020, the new versions (of the programs) have the following “good points”, which have caused a lot of concern:

First, to maintain CPC’s overall leadership on women’s and children’s work. Adhering to the directions of Xi Jinping’s thinking on socialism with Chinese characteristics of the new era, the new versions of the two programs emphasize upholding good political leadership, fully implementing the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee on Women’s and Children’s Development, provide CPC leadership in implementing programs and promoting women’s and children’s development;

Second, follow a people-centered development philosophy. For example, the programs emphasize the need to redouble efforts to strengthen the civil service system and put in place relevant institutions and mechanisms to protect the rights and interests of disadvantaged women and children. In addition, increased efforts should be made to reduce disparities in the development of women and children between urban and rural areas, between different regions and between different groups;

Third, strengthen the theoretical and political orientation, as well as the ideological and moral education of women and children. China’s National Program for Women’s Development (2021-2030) guides women to follow the leadership of the CPC. The Chinese National Program for Child Development (2021-2030) focuses on the fundamental task of fostering the comprehensive moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic grounding of children with a spirit of hard work;

Fourth, guide and help women and children to become masters of the country and play a greater role. China’s National Women’s Development Program (2021-2030) emphasizes the importance of encouraging women to contribute both to high-quality development and to promoting the modernization of the national governance system and capacity. China’s National Program for Child Development (2021-2030) emphasizes the importance of encouraging and supporting children to participate in family, social and cultural life, and creating a social environment conducive to involvement children in life; and

Fifth, implement the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and add new content to programs to meet the needs of residents in their social and family life. For example, helping women take advantage of their unique role in social and family life, and giving full play to the important roles of family, family upbringing and family traditions in promoting healthy growth of children and in Strengthening Social Governance at the Community Level, the sections “Women and Strengthening the Family” and “Children and Families” are added to China’s National Program for Women’s Development (2021-2030) and China’s National Program respectively for child development (2021-2030). In order to promote the implementation of key decisions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on optimizing childbirth policies, the programs contain policies and measures to support childbearing, education and education. To ensure children’s safety and healthy growth, and to prevent and treat childhood injuries, China’s National Program for Child Development (2021-2030) includes the “Children and Safety” section.

(Women of China English Monthly, November 2021 issue)

Mara R. Wilmoth