Women in Asia continue to experience massive structural disadvantages, from early childhood education through their retirement from work – if they wanted and were allowed to work – and into their older age. It is mainly women who are exploited as cheap labour in Asia’s export industries and low-skill sectors, especially agriculture, textiles and the footwear and electronic industries. They are paid subsistence wages and experience increasing precariousness of their working as well as living conditions.
By the end of 2017, women will constitute 43.5 per cent of China’s employed population. China’s experience with gender equality has shown how promoting the participation of women in socioeconomic activities improves their personal status as well as the country’s overall social productivity and economic vitality. Data also indicates, however, that the market’s record on advancing gender equality has diluted the previous impact of the government-driven approach to fostering it.
In 1988, women annually earned 84 per cent of what men received. This figure declined to 80 per cent in 1995, to 79 per cent in 2002, and to 78.3 per cent in 2018. The most immediate impact of this development has been the shift in women’s power and status in various economic sectors, with women as a group increasingly becoming more vulnerable.
In this paper, Chen Yuting, Associate Professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, assesses the present situation of women in the Chinese labour market and provides an outlook on China’s future industrial development and its prospective impact on women in the world of work.
This paper is part of the regional project "Women and the future of work in Asia". With insights from distinguished researchers in nine Asian countries, FES and its partners aim to further promote gender equality in the world of work, with emphasis on enhancing women’s participation in public and political life and promoting decent work for all along with gender-just and human-centric economic models.
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