Saturday, February 02, 2008

Half the Sky

Mao proclaimed that "women hold up half the sky", setting the stage for women to serve in all critical functions in Communist China. Nearly half of a century later, we can find evidence that women continue to hold up half the sky or more in the homes, yet are not breaking through the smog to their half of the sky in much of business and politics.

As the first plenary session of the 13th Shanghai People's Congress closed two days ago, the newly elected Shanghai city government stood for photos flanking the reelected mayor, Han Zheng. His vice-mayors include 7 men and 1 woman, Zhao Wen.

Zhao Wen has impressive qualifications. Quoting the 1 February 2008 Shanghai Daily,
She has worked in the financial education and research area at higher education institutes for years. She has worked as assistant president and dean of the Accounting Department at Tongji University. Zhao has also worked as vice governor at the city's suburban Nanhui District. She has been vice secretary-general at Shanghai People's Congress Standing Committee and vice director of the SPC's Economics and Finance Department, overseeing budget affairs.
With these credentials, we might suspect then that she's been given a substantial role in the city government. Instead, we find that her charter is sports, tourism (though not the World Expo 2010), intellectual property rights protection, family planning, literature and history.

I'm sure she wouldn't use the words "tokenism", yet it sure looks to me like a lot less than half the sky is being held up here.


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