|Bringing Equality Home - Implementing the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (UNIFEM, 1998, 45 p.)|
|III. NATIONAL LAWS|
China passed the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests in 1992. It was developed under the authority of the All China Women's Federation, and was drafted over a three-year period by Government officials and legal academics. The law states that it is intended to implement both the Chinese constitution's guarantee of gender equality and China's obligations under CEDAW.
The law's scope is very broad. Its six chapters set out political rights, educational and cultural rights, labour rights, property rights, rights in marriage and the family, and 'personal' rights encompassing personal freedom, bodily integrity, dignity, honour, and reputation. The law provides that affirmative action measures should be taken to increase women's participation in the legislatures and Government administration. It also issues a general call for greater attention to the structural problems underlying gender inequality in China.
Many of the law's provisions repeat entitlements already established in other recent Chinese legislation, such as the 1980 Marriage Law, the 1985 Inheritance Law, and the 1986 General Principles of Civil Law. Some new protections have been added, however, most notably in relation to housing and agricultural land.
Although the substance of the law is quite progressive, the challenge is implementation. Women are entitled to bring legal claims over the violation of their rights under the law, and the State has control over the progress of these claims. The law's enforcement is actually at the State's discretion. While it is not unusual for a Chinese law to give the State this determinative role, the impact of the Law on the Protection of Women's Rights and Interests will depend on the Government's commitment.