The Communist Part of China has constantly declared that their politics is the only path for Chinese women’s to free themselves from the constraints of the past discrimination and suppression. However, the efforts introduced by the CPS were insufficient because of the liberation process is impossible without feminist movements aimed at spreading tendencies of China’s democratization and modernization.
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In other words, full liberation of Chinese women from the historical limits of the past is not possible provided that they rely solely on the reforms and policies of the Chinese Communist government.
Despite the difficulties and challenging encounters, the advent of the communist government have provided women with equality rights, freedom of marriage regulations and other benefits that males only had previously enjoyed.
Specifically, post-1949 era introduced the Marriage Law of 1950, the Election Law of PRC of 1953 and, finally, women’s right to property, which is equal to men’s rights. In addition, wider opportunities were presented in educational spheres since more and more women started learning to read and to write.
The basic strategies of the Communist Party of China were to attract as many supporters as possible to gain advantage over other rivals. Therefore, their strategies involve several reforms, particularly for Chinese women who were considered as significant resource of labor.
By granting freedom of marriage to women, the government activated more women’s participation and movement that allow them to establish authority in 1949. This period, therefore, improved women’s status significantly so that they can enjoy similar rights with men. Given the introduced changes, the question remains concerning the validity of women’s liberation process after 1949.
In this respect, specific attention should be given to the examination of the presented problem in a global context. The women’s human rights movement at the international level has currently pressed human rights organizations, particularly the United Nations to acknowledge that women’s liberation should be congruent with existing legal norms.
In a post-war era, the United Nations issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a universal standard of granting rights and freedoms for all nations and peoples (United Nations n. p.). The Declaration briefly outlines the core principles of rights and considers the necessity to strike the balance between cultural, economic, and social rights and political and civil rights.
Therefore, the Declaration could also be regarded as the main underpinning for women’s liberation after 1949. Nevertheless, women’s rights were partially addressed in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (United Nations n. p.). According to the Convention,
…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, and cultural, civil or any other field (United Nation, n. p.).
Many governments adopted this legal act for the purpose of promoting equality and freedom between men and women, as well as establishing gender equality in various social spheres. Despite the enacted legislature, the CCP resisted to adopting both the CEDAW and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because they strived to separate Chinese society from the influence of Western thought.
Although the Chinese Communist Party supported the feminist movements and liberation of women’s rights, its initial purposes was confined to involving women in stabilizing political and social situations in the country. In this respect, they denounced any signs of feminine identity and appearance.
During this period of the Cultural revolution, “positive” mages of women, images that, by disrupting the conventional associations of femininity, were intended to position women in new roles and positions” (Evans and Donald 64).
As a result, the proposed ideology about gender differences shaped the discourse that significantly restricted the possibilities for the Chinese women of exploring new dimensions of their images. The policy toward female society in Chine during the period failed to fulfill the promise of absolute gender equality in education, employment, and political participation.
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There were a number of contra arguments rejecting the policies established by the United Nations. First, China had a fixed socialist political system and, therefore, the core leadership positions belong to the CCP only.
Consequently, women’s rights should be controlled in accordance with the guidelines established by the CCP (Bernstein and Li 268). Second, Chinese society adhered mostly to the Marxist principles and were interpreted as the necessity to emancipate humankind, but not to meet the individuals needs and concerns, as it was stipulated on the international agenda (Bernstein and Li 268).
Third, because Chine belonged to the developing countries, it prioritized the goals to improve the living conditions in the Chinese society. Finally, Chine was not able to introduce a full range of rights and independence because of lack of educational foundation in the country.
Regarding to the above-presented reasons, the concepts and ideologies introduced by the CCP deviated significantly from the Western concept because most of philosophical foundations were closely associated with the Chinese psyche.
Hence, the Western orientation focused on male domination as the major barrier to achieving gender equality (Bernstein and Li 268). In order to promote women’s liberation, feminist commitment to pressing on men-dominated political and power system should be introduced (Bernstein and Li 268).
However, Chinese women took the course on fighting against the traditional distribution of gender roles which neutralized the role of men in aggravating women’s inequality. Thus, Chinese concept of women’s liberation reveals that women can do everything that men do.
In such a way, the government aimed to fill in the gap between male and female communities in various spheres of social and political life. To be more exact, the Chinese ideology focused on the advantages of gender equality for the Chinese people in addition to the advantages received by women in particular whereas the Western approach was concerned more with rights and freedoms of women as individuals.
Despite new patterns and policies introduced in China, the remnants of feudalism and conservative thinking made all attempts to transfer to a new ideological dimension fail. The only focus was made on preserving the leadership of the CCP where feminist thinking allowed the policy makers to gather large masses of women fighting for the equality. The Party needed support and women perfectly met their requirements.
Thus, in case women did not belong to the Party, their individual efforts to mobilize movements against male domination were useless. So, the created feminist movements were heavily manipulated by the CCP so as to strengthen their positions in the country.
The women taking part on political activities in Chine “…no longer had the conceptual frame within which to mobilize as ‘women of the world’ – instead they were ‘Chinese’ women for whom feminism was inappropriate…and unnecessary” (Roces and Edwards 65). The discontinuous activities of Chinese and Western feminist movements prevent the former from achieving individuals’ rights.
The tangible shifts in governmental policies occurred when the Reform Movement was launched in China. In 1995, the country held the Fourth World Conference on Women during which women’s rights were recognized as inherent part of human rights (Du and Zheng 248).
The Declaration adopted during the conferences also determined the advancement of women’s privileges, including free expression of thought, belief, religion, and consciousness (Du and Zheng 248).
The document also aimed to eliminate any kind of gender discrimination, as well as promote economic independent of women. Finally, the reform also ensured an equal access of women to various economic resources, such as vocational training, science and technology, information, and communication.
Despite the positive changes, the Chinese government promises were not fully kept. The problem is that the population remained an instrument of control, rather than an independent community. Chinese women’s situation was aggravated greatly because of launching the reform movement.
Scholars confirm the challenging situation that women encountered because the resistance existed that hampered the full accomplishment of all deeds and changes that would endow women with equal rights to participate actively in governmental and political affairs, as well as in entering freely educational institutions.
Therefore, most authors refer to the 1949 revolution as to the event when women were “holding up half the sky” (Agelasto and Adamson 300). The CCP leaders chose a new political mode while introducing policies toward women to gain sufficient power and support. Their ideology was more based on a patriarchal body, despite a full commitment to protecting gender equality.
The women’s liberation deviated from the norms accepted at the international levels because of historically predetermined events. Chinese government was more concerned with liberating women from class contradictions. The Communist Party established the priorities where the first place for the class struggle prevailed over gender equality issues.
Thus, the given ideologies could be viewed as a reconstruction of a patriarchal family and consciousness for constructing a socialist society.
Consequently, “socialism has not liberated women because a socialist model of production has proven to be compatible with a patriarchal sex-gender system” (Agelasto and Adamson 300). The support received from the government was an allusion created by the Party to accomplish their hidden objectives.
With regard to the above presented deliberation on role of the CCP engagement liberating women’s right, there are still ambiguous issues to be discussed. While pursuing personal goals and interests, the Chinese authority failed to meet the international standards of human rights allowing women to make their choices individually beyond the influence of the political parties (Agelasto and Adamson 300).
However, despite the discrepancies between ideologies, the CCP managed to bind the issues of women’s human rights to the international discourse. Anti-democratic nature of the Chinese political system makes it a serious challenge to develop new principles of women’s rights.
In comparison with Western standards, the level of recognition of women’s rights in China was significantly, although it was officially and practically acknowledged that men and women had equal access to all sphere of social life (Xiaoxian and Ma 596). In fact, abuse of women’s commitment to the activities of the CCP.
The international standards assert the obligatory conditions of achieving gender equality, which is possible human freedom and development. These issues are congruent both social and individual aspects.
The period between 1949 and 1976 years has created a solid ground for developing families, but it has also introduced a number for challenges for developing feminist movement beyond the political control of the Communist Party.
One the one hand, the CCP opened wider opportunities for young women to apply for paid jobs in the country area, attend universities, and perceive equal attitude on the part of the government (Xiaoxian and Ma 596). On the other hand, governmental attempts to advance the women’s movement led to significant shifts in family structure and their reproductive functions (Ross 67).
Changes in family structures were followed by cultural and economic transitions or rural women to urban areas. In this respect, the Chinese government recognized, “the increased demand for women’s labor resulted in another change in policy, the formal implementation of socialized housework” (Manning 577). Thus, women were liberated from their household duties to organize collective meetings and dining halls.
The leaders of the new women’s movement insisted on the possibility of women’s liberation from the hindrances of the feudal past. Moreover, the organized movements encouraged former housewives to gain confidence, skills, and economic independence outside their homes (Changli 21). At the same time, they were also required to perform their roles as mothers and wives in home.
However, allowing women to fulfill duties that men do gave rise discontent among women whose resist to their identification of their responsibilities in regard to gender distinctions.
This period is marked by the advent of the Great Leap Forward period, the time when the Marxist maternalist principles were introduced (Manning 578). While viewing women’s liberation from this perspective, gender equality was nothing but a transition to a new model of labor division.
The changing patterns of the Party’s ideology provided women with new discourses acted in various historical periods.
Specifically, the period involved individualization and awareness discourse that was culturally shaped in the period of Chinese enlightenment, gender discourse on removing feminine identities from constructing new philosophical foundation for the Chinese women’s movements, and, finally, consumerist discourse that was constructed during the Chinese economic reform (Li 240).
The given discourses provide a better picture of changes occurred to the female population in China. Moreover, it focuses on the traditional conventions existing about women and their rights.
In order to achieve full liberation from old-fashioned conceptions, the Chinese women should enter the global context. Regardless of gender, each individual should have the right to equally treated, but the Chinese authorities view women as a collective power that is indispensible to enhancing the CCP’s domination in the country.
Therefore, women should gain greater self-consciousness and economic independence to break the principles of patriarchal tradition. Thus, gender equality does not presuppose negligence of feminine identity, but recognition of human rights beyond gender perspectives. In this respect, the CCP failed to fulfill their obligation in front of Chinese women.
Their purposes went beyond the women’s interests and goals and, therefore, the Party violated the rights and freedom of individuals. At the same time, the government introduced a favorable basis for fighting and resisting the existing male supremacy.
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