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The Global Women’s Movement and Chinese Women’s Rights

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  1. The Global Women’s Movement and Chinese Women’s Rights Joan Kaufman, Sc.D Heller School, Brandeis University Harvard Medical School Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting, 2010

  2. Key Points Global Women’s movement as trans national civil society movement advocating for and mobilizing about women’s rights Two UN Conferences on Women in 1990’s as vehicles for making global connections Beijing Women’s Conference in 1995 as galvanizing and catalytic event for Chinese women’s movement

  3. Overview of Presentation The Global Women’s Movement and the two UN Conferences: International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Cairo, 1994 Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing (4WCW), 1995 Impact of ICPD and 4WCW in China Resulting initiation of reforms to China’s family planning program and domestic violence efforts

  4. The International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo,1994) Victory for feminist critiques of population control programs Primacy of reproductive health and rights and women’s social and economic development over narrow focus on birth control

  5. ICPD, Platform for Action, 1994 Reproductive and Sexual Rights Reproductive health, including family planning, MCH, HIV and STI instead of population control Quality services and informed choice Services and information to youth Domestic violence as health issue Client centered and integrated services Social and economic development for women Role of civil society and non government actors

  6. China’s Family Planning Program in 1994 Child bearing women targeted Demographic targets down to local level Government regulations and fines for unplanned births Parity driven: emphasis on long term methods pressure to abort unplanned pregnancies Highly organized service and propaganda infrastructure “One veto” system for evaluating officials

  7. China’s Family Planning Program Reform after 1994 1995 – 1997: Pilot Project on Quality of Care and Reproductive Health (11 rural counties) 1999: scaled up to 800 counties (25% of country) and groundswell for change 2000: government announced plan to expand to whole country by 2010 2001: laws and regulations reformed and publicized

  8. Key Aspects of the Reform Initiative Eliminate township level population targets (retained at county but normative) Contraceptives based on need/preference not parity driven Informed choice of methods and counseling Reform supervision and evaluation criteria for family planning cadres Add needed health services (RTI and HIV)

  9. China’s Family Planning Reform:Not far enough Change in rhetoric and intention from target driven to need based and service oriented and contraceptive choice Little change in reproductive rights The Girl Child: sex ratio at birth 117 boys to 100 girls through sex selective abortion and girl child abandonment: second and third parity No civil society movement in China advocating for reproductive rights Silence and mixed messages by China’s feminists

  10. The Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing, 1995 Re-affirmed ICPD agenda on reproductive health and rights and women’s social and economic rights Domestic Violence as one of four key conference themes NGO Forum: active role of international women’s NGOs Advocacy Groups and Civil Society Organizations (DAWN, WEDO, HERA, IWHC) Chinese women’s NGO’s emerged as “counterparts” to global actors – Women’s Hotline, Women’s Law Center of Beijing University, Chinese Women’s Health Network, Rural Women Knowing All Regional organizations strengthened – ARROW International Networking and Alliance building on women’s issues

  11. Beijing Conference, Post 1995Impact on China’s Women’s Movement Galvanizing event for Chinese women activists through exposure to international women’s movement especially international NGOs Further consolidation of women’s activist NGOs and networks working on women’s social and economic issues (e.g. women’s media project, domestic violence network) Launch of China gender and development group Growth of women’s studies, research and training (Chinese Society for Women’s Studies, ACWF’s China Women’s Studies Association) Beginning of international networking via internet (e.g.V-Day campaigns)

  12. Changing Role of All China Women’s Federation Hosting of Beijing Conference and ongoing participation in CSW and contact point for UN women’s rights agreements Growing activism by provincial and county branches of ACWF (e.g. Xi’an) Independent NGOs putting pressure on ACWF to change and become more responsive to women’s issues: domestic violence, trafficking, job discrimination, women’s land inheritance rights

  13. Progress on Domestic Violence after Beijing Conference, 1995 Pre Beijing Conference, denial Domestic Violence Network formed in 1998 (10 NGO and academic groups) Local branches of ACWF began anti DV legal initiatives after Beijing Conference 2001 Marriage Law amended to include a law outlawing domestic violence/2005 LRIW amended – remedial measures included 2007 – drafting of law on domestic violence by Domestic Violence Network (to be submitted to State Council) 2008 – Guide for Supreme People’s Court issued on domestic violence and “protection orders” mechanism established

  14. Comparison of Progress on Reproductive Rights and Domestic Violence • Reproductive Rights issue – institutional reform (National Population and Family Planning Commission) but no independent NGO movement • ICPD commitments led to top down reforms to family planning program • No civil society actors putting pressure on government about women’s rights violations of the program • Domestic Violence issue – interplay between evolving ACWF and civil society driven women’s movement • Beijing Conference “issue” pushed ACWF to act and internationalized it (e.g. CSW) • Independent civil society groups put further pressure on ACWF • Competition for legitimacy as representatives of women’s interests

  15. Huge growth in NGOs in China • 320,000 NGOs registered with MOCA • 171,150 shehui tuanti –social organizations • 975 Jijinhui -foundations • 147,637 minbanfeiqiye danwei – welfare orgs • but probably 2 million (commercial and industrial bureau, community organizations, rural welfare and mutual help groups, religious groups) • Mainly advocacy (changdao) rather than service • Dual management system

  16. Conclusion Government policies, programs and services have been instrumental to advance basic women’s rights in China However, voice and agency of women (through civil society) are critical mechanisms for fuller rights achievement Transnational civil society needs “counterparts” at national level in order to mobilize action on specific issues