Equality for women is progress for all

Message by Mr Tim De Meyer, Director, ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia

Statement | Beijing, China | 07 March 2014
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the International Labour Office (ILO) for China and Mongolia is celebrating with the people of China for the progress achieved in advancing women’s development in the world of work.

With the long-standing commitment to promoting gender equality, China has taken a series of proactive measures enhancing equal opportunities and treatment at work for women from a legal, political, social and economic perspective. Equality between men and women is firmly established as a basic national policy.

Despite these achievements, challenges persist. Gender pay gaps in both rural and urban areas are widening, women earn just 56% of men’s income in rural areas, and 67.3% of men’s income in urban areas. Women’s employment is concentrated in the informal sector, precarious work and low-paid jobs (e.g. 95% of domestic workers are women, and 45% of women’s employment is in agriculture). In the formal sector, the participation of women in top-level management whether in governments or enterprises, remains rather low, despite the existing pool of talented and competent women leaders. Women’s reproductive role and family responsibilities are key factors constraining them from enjoying employment equality in the labour market and in the workplace. Economies that want to sustain growth while improving its quality as well as people’s well-being must make the best of the productive potential of people, regardless of sex.

The ILO goes hand-in-hand with the Chinese tripartite constituents and other partners to develop and implement a series of programmes for creating an enabling environment conducive to promoting gender equality while eliminating inequality at work. Through our joint efforts, the principles of equality and non-discrimination have been incorporated into national laws. The State Council issued the National Regulation on Labour Protection for Women, in which maternity leave was extended in accordance with the International Labour Convention on Maternity Protection (No. 183). The All-China Federation of Trade Unions is promoting collective agreements at the workplace level to strengthen women workers’ rights in the areas of maternity protection, and combating sexual harassment. The China Enterprise Confederation is providing guidance to employers through their Code of Practice on equal opportunity and treatment in the workplace.

International Women’s Day provides us an opportunity to recommit ourselves to work together in more innovative and effective ways to address persistent inequality and emerging challenges at work.