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How Xi Jinping is shaping new path for women ?

Chinese president Xi Jinping has no respect for gender values. Blinded by his desperation to reverse record decline in the birth rate and fear of ageing population, Xi Jinping recently directed women to establish a “new trend of family”, insisting that women should get married and produce babies.

These controversial remarks have exposed how Xi Jinping and his colleagues look at women. These remarks are in sharp contrast to earlier remarks as officials used to talk about the role women played at home as well as in the work force. The global community is shocked by Xi Jinping’s remarks and criticised China’s population policy.

Speaking at 13th National Women’s Congress few days ago, Xi lectured women delegates to get married and produce babies only. “We should actively foster a new type of marriage and childbearing culture,” he said in a speech, adding that it was the role of party officials to influence young people’s views on “love and marriage, fertility and family.”

President Xi Jinping underscored his concerns — and more conservative social views — about China’s shrinking population in a speech calling on a key women’s organization to help bolster the nation’s birthrate by promoting a “culture” of childbirth. Unfortunately, women organisations have little or no courage to challenge the country’s leadership.

Newly elected president of the All-China Women’s Federation Shen Yiqin did not oppose the conservative view of Xi Jinping due to political association with the ruling Communist Party of China. Yiqin urged efforts to uphold and strengthen the overall leadership of the Communist Party of China, serve the country’s overall interests, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of women. Yiqin added that efforts should also be made to uphold fundamental principles and break new ground in relevant work, and to unrelentingly carry out self-reform, she added. As a people’s organization under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), it serves as a bridge linking the party and the government with women and as an important social pillar of the state power. Its fundamental tasks are to establish links with and serve women, while its main responsibilities are to represent and safeguard women’s rights and interests, and to promote gender equality and women’s all-round development.

As regard to existing women welfare policies, the number of births is closely tied to marriage rates because official policies in China make it hard for single women to have children.

In the last couple of years, China unveiled measures to lift the country’s birth rate. Financial incentives and expanded child-care facilities were introduced but the response to these measures has been of no help as a majority has opted for no child or one child only. Factors including high child care costs, career hindrance, gender discrimination and not wanting to get married have deterred many young Chinese women from having children. According to available reports, young Chinese women have begun opting for E children  instead of real children as a majority doesn’t want to go for reproduction because child bearing and rearing have become too costly for most families.

In January, China’s National Bureau of Statistics had reported the first population drop in six decades, and the country’s population is rapidly aging. The state media has linked population development to the strength and “rejuvenation” of the country.

Experts said that the ruling party desperately needs women to have more babies. China has been thrust into a demographic crisis as its birthrate has plummeted, causing its population to shrink for the first time since the 1960s. The authorities are working hard to reverse an irreversible trend, trying one initiative after another, such as cash handouts and tax benefits to encourage more births.

Faced with a demographic crisis, a slowing economy and what it views as a stubborn rise of feminism, the party has chosen to push women back into the home, calling on them to rear the young and care for the old. The work, in the words of Mr. Xi, is essential for “China’s path to modernization.”

In fact, human rights watch has taken serious view of China’s population policy. The HRW had warned the Chinese government’s one-child policy and its disastrous long-term effects on the country’s population and society. In the last six years China moved swiftly from a one- to two- to three-child policy only to be met with plummeting birth rates. Every marker of demographic decline has reminded the government that regulating family size by force is nothing but a human rights disaster.

It did so through the introduction of the one-child policy, a radical, long-running social experiment that was vicious, inhumane, violated everyone’s reproductive rights, and resulted in a wildly uneven distribution by sex. It has led to an estimated 30-million male surplus – roughly an Australia-size population of bachelors – and an age distribution within the population at odds with the country’s economic health. As a result, the Chinese Communist Party turned to women and exhorted them to have more children. The Chinese government’s long history of restricting women’s right to reproductive choice and bodily autonomy through abusive, and sometimes violent means has instilled a deep fear and suspicion among many women in China that genuine attempts at reparation – however unlikely this might be to happen – would help alleviate.

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