Author: Suzy Ma-Milonas – China FM GEC Representative
The status of Chinese women, in ancient times and even in early modern times, can be summed up in one sentence: “Women don’t even have a place to put their feet”. Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China and according to the precepts advocated by Chairman Mao Zedong: “Women can have half the sky”!
The role of access to education
On May 1, 1950, the People’s Republic of China promulgated the first marriage law, which emphasized the importance of freedom of marriage and monogamy. What followed was not only led to the equality and freedom of men and women in marital status. Literacy training for Chinese women has made it possible to use the new knowledge acquired to qualify for their own first and last name. This broke the chains linked to the use of their husband’s name. They have acquired a complete social personality.
Access to education and culture has enabled women to gain the right to vote, be elected, and other political rights, but also to learn how to use technology to access public or professional positions. In recent years, the status of women has changed dramatically. Even the nicknames are different. Previously they were nicknamed the “little daughter-in-law”, the “little woman”. But “Petite” meant low social status. Now they are nicknamed “the goddess” “or the beauty”. Women’s Day, March 8, also has a new name: Victoria Day. At Acropolis, we call them the Treasures of Acropolis.
– With regard to the right of women to education, in 2017 the female enrollment rate in higher education was 45.7% and that of female graduates represented 48.4% of all postgraduate students,
– In terms of continuing education, the number of undergraduate students was significantly higher than that of men,
– 43.5% of women have jobs in society as a whole,
– 48.6% of women hold technical positions in companies and public institutions,
– more than 55% of women in the Internet sector,
– 63% of women in the health sector,
– 55% of women in education,
– 43.1% of registered urban unemployed women.
There are great job opportunities for women, but in reality, they have to put in more effort than their male counterparts: not only do women have to manage their professional lives, but at the same time they have to take responsibility for their family life. They combine different roles: employees, wives, mothers, nurses, housekeepers, etc.
The second child
In order to solve the problem of China’s aging population, the country opened its policy and in 2016 allowed a second child. The Chinese population, however, did not grow as expected: in 2017, births stood at 17.23 million, a decrease of 630,000 from the previous year.
Even though the country has put in place a number of measures to encourage the birth rate, why is the current rate still falling and what are the reasons for its decline or stagnation?
The main reasons why most women do not want to have a second child:
– Do not want to be a housewife,
– Wish to develop professionally according to their abilities and not risk losing their job because of the second child,
– When the husband’s income is not very high, the wife’s income is important for the family. They cannot afford to lose their jobs because of the second child,
– The husband does not want a second child and does not participate in the heavy household chores of the family,
– Grandparents do not want to spend too much time, energy or participate in the funding and responsibility of raising the third generation,
– There are very few public nurseries to accept children under 3 years old. Private or semi-private establishments cost CNY 3,000 to 20,000 CNY (375 Euros to 2500 Euros) per month and per child
– The process of pregnancy, breastfeeding and education of the first child was perceived as difficult and painful,
– The cost of education and household expenses for the first child correspond to an additional cost of at least 25% of the total income of the parents. The second child will reduce this additional cost to 50% or more: mortgage, car, which adds to the costs of looking after the elderly parents.
– Various social pressures.
However, some women want to have a second child for the following reasons:
– Stable work, no pressure at work, no strong motivation for career development,
– The husband has a large or even wealthy income. In addition, some husbands are willing to spend a lot of time and energy with their wives to take care of household chores and participate in the education of the children,
– The grandparents are in good health and want to help on a daily basis for the third generation,
– Women born in the 80s to 90s experienced the loneliness of an only child and the pressure to take care of their elderly parents,
– The first child has a congenital defect,
– The first child is a girl; they hope the second will be a son.
Mini survey at Acropolis Associates / FMA China
Acropolis specializes in the recruitment of executives and managers, in the umbrella services (hosting employees in our payroll for companies who are not registered in China). 85% of our employees are women. For the past 6 years at Acropolis, we have attended weddings and births. After the birth of their first child, almost 97% of employees, males and females, do not wish to have a second child.
Although our company gives women more flexible working hours, almost all of our employees, men and women, say they do not want a 2nd child:
“We are already struggling to cope with the first child in terms of time, money, energy; we don’t even want to think about the 2nd. “
“Our parents are old; we will no longer be able to ask them for help as for our first child; our parents deserve to enjoy their retirement without carrying the burden of the 3rd generation. “
“If we want our child to have a good education, we need to invest before and during their schooling, such as piano lessons, calligraphy, dance, English. All these education costs are very expensive, we will invest everything for our first and only child. To meet the cost of education, we both need to work in order to have a sufficient income. “
The testimonials of our employees clearly reflect what many young Chinese women think when they give up the idea of having the second child. The general opinion seems to be that the birth rate in China will not increase until there are enough children’s hospitals, public nurseries and institutes for the elderly, with a system affordable.