Indian Catholic News

Catholic women in China deal with changing views of motherhood

Some government agencies have posted slogans encouraging women to stay at home to take care of their children.

 
The Chinese government are reportedly urging women to stay home to take care of their families. (ucanews.com photo)
Hong Kong: 

China last year formally updated its 36-year "one-child policy" to a "two-child policy." But in fact, the change had been phased in over a decade.

By 2007, only 36 percent of the population was strictly covered by the one child limit. There were exceptions for ethnic minorities and 53 percent of couples could have a second child if their first was female.

Liberalizing the policy is helping to address deep-seated social, economic and political problems caused by a fast-aging population, not least having less workers and domestic consumers.

However, it is being reported that the two-child policy is also resulting in some unforeseen negative consequences for the economy, society and individual Chinese women.

For example, various enterprises cite cost and manpower implications of burgeoning maternity leave obligations.

Since the promulgation of the more liberal population policy initiative, 30 out of 31 provincial administrative units have extended statutory maternity leave requirements.

Mothers in Hunan and Hainan Province, for example, are now entitled to 190 paid leave days.

But many companies have become less willing to hire females.

Some government agencies and enterprises have publicly posted slogans encouraging women to stay at home to take care of their children.

Official mouthpiece Xinhua published an article in February 2016 stating that doing so would have a positive impact on society.

The official China Youth Daily also reflected this sentiment.

In 2015, large posters were displayed at the Marriage Registration Department in Beijing lauding the importance of being a "good housewife and a good mother."

Posters also posed the question: "Why do you have to sharpen your mind and work so hard to compete with men for resources and seize their working opportunities?"

China announces change to one-child policy

World Bank figures released in 2016 showed that 63.3 percent of the female population aged over 15 was in the labor force compared to 77.9 percent of the male population in the same age group.

However, in 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Council reported discriminatory practices in China based on maternity.

Employers chose to hire women who already had children, denied pregnant women statutory leave or dismissed women during their pregnancies.

According to a joint investigation in 2010 by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) and the National Bureau of Statistics, more than 72 percent of women stated they were not hired or promoted due to gender discrimination.

More than 75 percent of women believed they had been dismissed due to marriage or pregnancy and said that dismissal rates were higher for women than men.

Such practices stifle women's development.

Joan, a Catholic in eastern China aged in her 30s, said men working outside while women stayed at home is chauvinistic.

She said entrepreneurs these days prefer to hire male workers or women with two children to employing young female workers without children or women with one child who might opt to have a second baby.

This deprived many women of self-development opportunities.

"Now in China, the cost of living is so high that only a husband's salary is not enough to pay the bills," Joan added.

Even if women had a part time job, earnings were inadequate and asking a spouse for "pocket money" undermined self-esteem.

Joan pointed out that many women preferred to "juggle" careers while caring for their families.



Senior Christians support

Maria — in her 50s and a self-described "traditional woman" — believes women should be able to choose to stay at home to look after their children when they are young.

She described the warmth she felt from being at home at the end of the school day.

"Being jobless really dramatically reduced family income," she said.

"But as long as the family was united, everything was worth it."

A simple life with lower expenditure had made her family happy.

She now helps take care of her grandchildren and makes handicrafts to earn a little extra.

Another Catholic, Agnes, also aged in her 50s, does not believe staying at home is a sacrifice.

"In fact, most women are forced to work to earn their living," she said.

"They are victims of patriarchies."

Source: UCAN

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