Author: Hewater Liu
Source: Women of China
As the main body of reproduction and key component of human resources, women have undertaken a huge mission in both childbearing and social production. Chinese women and their families were thrilled about the prospect of bearing a second child, when the universal two-child policy was officially adopted in 2016. However, due to various concerns, many women are reluctant to bear a second child, even though the new family planning policy allows them to do so.
The potential conflict between employment and reproduction is one of important factors that women have to take into consideration when they plan to have a second child. Therefore, the government and relevant departments need to introduce relevant supporting measures to better implement the policy and relieve women’s worries in relation to childbearing and work.
Challenges Faced by Women in Equal Employment
Employment is an important channel for women to engage themselves in social and economic growth, promote harmony in both family affairs and social issues, and realize personal values. However, reproduction is closely intertwined with discrimination against women in their employment, which creates difficulties for women in their pursuit of a job and career development.
Prejudices against women’s reproduction whilst in employment are still ubiquitous. Nearly half of employers will take applicants’ gender and marital status into account, while 54.7 percent of female job hunters are questioned connected with their marriage, childbearing and other topics during an interview, according to a survey. In addition, it is reported that some enterprises will immediately reject any application from female job seekers if they are hesitant about whether they plan to get married in the next two years.
Childbearing has squeezed the opportunities accessible to women in their career growth. A survey shows that 67.4 percent of surveyed women think reproduction has scaled down their chances to get training or promotion in their work, and 47.4 percent of female employees blame it for the deterioration of their work conditions. Moreover, some women have to give up their work for childbearing. Therefore, many women, who want to continue their work, are forced to abandon their plans to have a child or postpone their pregnancy. In particular, women with great potential in their career development dare not to bear their first child, let alone raise a second child, though they have been married for years.
A large number of women with children have to bear the brunt of the motherhood penalty, evident with a drop in their salaries when they give birth to a child. As high as 64.4 percent of women in a survey argue that childbearing has led to a decline in their personal salaries. Amongst them, 44 percent think their maternity pay is no more than half of their previous income. Another 12.5 percent of surveyed women say they quit their jobs or are dismissed by their employers when they decide to have a child. For these women, they don’t have an opportunity to enjoy maternity leave and payment. It is obvious that reproduction has curtailed women’s income.
Factors Detrimental to Gender Equality in Employment
Some firms choose to sacrifice the observance of legal regulations faced with the realization of a decrease in labor costs. They hold that female employees who get married or have a child will spend less time on their work, become less efficient in their jobs and create financial burdens upon them. As a result, certain enterprises become more and more reluctant to hire women or take radical measures to discourage female employees in their bids to get married or bear children. For instance, women in relationships are required not to get married or raise a child in the following years; wait in line to become pregnant; or dismiss themselves. Women’s rights and interests in employment have thus been fundamentally infringed.
Relevant government departments haven’t fully supervised the occurrence of discrimination against women in employment or granted tougher punishments over such prejudices. The Regulation on Labor Security Supervision (2004), which guides labor security inspection departments in their work, fails to explicitly include gender equality in employment in its regulatory scope, generating difficulties in monitoring discriminatory behavior against women in their employment. In addition, many employers have resorted to covert discrimination against women, which makes it hard for involved women to collect evidence, tip supervisory departments off those prejudices and ask for intervention.
Legislative bodies are expected to further improve existing laws and regulations in relation to gender equality in employment. The 68th Article in the Law on Promotion of Employment states, “Where anyone, in violation of the provisions of this Law, infringes on the lawful rights and interests of the workers, thus causing property losses or other damages, he or she shall bear civil liabilities in accordance with law; if a crime is constituted, he or she shall be investigated for criminal responsibilities in accordance with law.” Nevertheless, the Provisions on Cause of Action for Civil Cases doesn’t contain gender discrimination in employment, whereby discriminated women couldn’t file a lawsuit and demand redress.