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Women in China contribute more to GDP than in the US. Viewing them as 'leftover' is problematic

 

There are 7 million urban single ladies between the ages of 25 and 34 in China. The part these women play in the Chinese miracle is sometimes overlooked, even though these young, urban, well-educated and single women are among the greatest contributors to their country’s growth.

 

Indeed, their contribution comes with a price, writes Roseann Lake in her new book Leftover in China: “[O]n paper, these women are pushing toward the upper echelon of the self-actualization pyramid. But as unmarried women, they teeter toward the bottom half of what is socially acceptable in China.” So exactly what role should the “leftover women” play in China’s economy and society?

 

First off, it’s important to note that women weren’t always (allowed to be) the economic motors of China, as Lake writes: “[U]ntil 1906, most Chinese women had their feet bound. Until 1950, they were sold in marriage to the highest bidder.”

But after this tough start, two side-effects of communist rule dramatically changed the country’s gender dynamic.

 

During Mao’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, China’s female employment rate became one of the highest in the world, as women became “sexless comrades”, labouring shoulder-to-shoulder with men. It was hardly a glamorous promotion but it did, for the first time ever, put many women on the same level as men.

 

The one-child policy implemented under Deng Xiaoping was the second reason for women’s rise, though again this wasn’t precisely a feminist policy. Boys were preferred to girls as the only child, especially in rural areas, leading to tens of thousands of infanticides per year. But the girls who were accepted did not have to compete with brothers for resources and attention and were able to blaze a trail that previous generations of women could not, as Ye Liu, senior lecturer in international education at Bath Spa University tells Times Higher Education.

 

The result is that, as in many other countries around the world, girls started outperforming boys in school: today, almost 53% of the top-scoring students across China’s 31 provincial-level regions are female, according to Lake’s book, and Chinese women have been the dominant gender in colleges for several years.

 

Read the full text here : https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/women-in-china-contribute-more-to-gdp-than-in-the-us-viewing-them-as-leftover-is-problematic

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