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Mother's Role in China

In: Business and Management

Submitted By surf13
Words 2007
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Before 1950, the role of the Chinese mother was based on the satisfaction of their husbands and bearing children. However, since this date, many factors such as the political environment, economic development and migration have been considerably responsible for changing the role of the mother in China. In fact, the rise of technology and the economic development of China resulted consequently in an increase of women's status, rights and opportunities. However, women's status is still slowed by the Chinese society who does not endorse completely its role in some essential areas such as childbearing. This essay will discuss how role of the Chinese mother has changed over almost sixty years and is still in changing.

In feudal China, the status of women and in particular the mother's role in the family was very different from nowadays. Indeed Confucian philosophy was mainly based on women's inferiority to men. Women had to obey their fathers first, their husbands after marriage and their sons if they were widowed. Moreover, weddings were arranged and the responsibility of the woman was to remain married because divorce was not allowed (Heng, 1994). The main role of women was to be assimilated as the private property of men and was to satisfy their husbands and to bear children. What is more, the symbol of women's subservience was the practice of binding women's feet, "this practice lasted nearly 1,000 years and during the Ming and Qing dynasties to be eligible for a husband" (Heng, 1994).
However, from 1949 to 1979, the role of women changed dramatically in particular with the installation of the People's Republic of China. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party admitted that the liberation of women was essential for the country to achieve complete emancipation (Heng, 1994). As a result of this, the new government established several reforms, laws, and policies that protected women. The Chinese Constitution of the early 1950s affirmed undoubtely that Chinese women experienced the same rights as men such as social, cultural, economic, political and family aspects of life. In fact, the state protected the rights and interests of women and also insured equal pay with men. Moreover, arranged marriages were eradicated. Therefore, men and women became free to choose their partners and widows were allowed to remarry. What is more, it has been affirmed by the Labor Insurance Regulations Law of 1951 that women could go 56 days of maternity leave with full pay (Heng, 1994). Furthermore, even the inheritance law recognized the same rights of women to inherit goods. These reforms and changes provided a new status for women which was more equal and fair. As a consequence, before 1978, the government allowed Chinese women to maintain jobs, become mothers and raise families. Therefore, from 1950 to 1978 the mother's role underwent a remarkable evolution, of equal level to that of China's growth.
In 1978, the Economic Reform had been introduced by the government and represented a significant change for the Chinese people and therefore a change in the role of women and particularly mothers. Indeed, the aim of the reform was to eliminate the ineffectivness of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 which was very unpopular and instead work on the economic development. As a result, the major components of the Economic Reform were mainly based on, agriculture, state-owned enterprises, open-door policy, price system, development of non-state sectors, the financial sector, economic and social infrastructure and the social welfare system. To sum up, this reform has been introduced to open China on the world which aimed to increase the country's strength, to boost the economic development and also to ameliorate the standard of living and the quality of life for the Chinese people (Chow, 2004). As a consequence of this reform, the role of the mother changed due to the economic and social development which provides an increase in opportunities but also an increase in competition. (Heng, 1994).

It has been argued by Chow (2004) that the Economic Reform was considerably successful since this reform was measured partly by its fast economic growth in GDP about 9.5 percent annually in the two decades after 1978. Thus, many opportunities have become available and there was a large migration from the rural areas to the cities by thousand famillies and an increase of jobs and employment for women. Moreover, the status of women changed in the social stratification due to the rise of number of women working in government and administrations.
It has been argued by Heng (1994) that the development and the commodity growth in China caused the migration of thousands famillies. That is why late in 1989 China saw women working in metropolitan areas as opposed to rural areas with 80-90% working in industrial sectors. With more opportunities to expend their skills "strong and capable women" worked in higher educational fields. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see women working within the government, for instance women are mayor or vice mayor in more than half of cities in China. In fact, in 1991 an association called "Chinese Women Mayor Society" was established, and has been in permanent augmentation, due to the popularity of Chinese women, since this date . What is more, the next year, around 350,000 women worked for the government, which represents 44% of the total and 275,000 women worked in business companies which represents 51% in this sector. Thus, these numbers correspond to an augmentation of 201% since 1985 (Heng, 1994). As a result of this increase of the employment of Chinese women, in 1998, more than 340 million women held jobs, which represented 46% of the total. Most companies "put the regulations for labor protection of women workers into effect and coverage for childbearing insurance through social pooling has been increased" (Xinhua News Agency, 2000). In regard to this, we can affirm that the Economic Reform has been essential for Chinese women's opportunities and development. Since this reform, women received more and more rights. As a consequence of this, the status of women in China has changed considerably due to an increase of opportunities and the support of many reforms. Furthermore, in regards to the mother's role, it has been discussed by Heng (1994) that to this day, the primary role of Chinese women revolves around the upbringing of children and the fulfilment of domestic duties. An added responsibility, however, is one of employement with additional support from familly and society crutial in fulfilling this role. For women in China, prioritizing a career over that of the traditional family and mothering role is viewed as an irresponsible act and one which is not condoned by society. As such, the proportion of women who adopt these ideas are a minority. In response to the increasing pressure due to the additional roles placed upon Chinese women, greater education is vital. The transformation and evolution of societal ideologies via education would better support Chinese women and improve their chances of success. Traditional gender roles continue to be engrained within the Chinese mentality. The traditional role of the male figure in China was to provide for his family by means of work. Chinese women would seek to find a spouse who would provide well for the family – an ideal that continues to this day.

It has been showed with a survey by Heng (1994), that many Chinese women interviewed conceded that they could be looking for an understanding husband and lay their career aside to do a "full time" job as a wife, mother and run a household. The reason is that the level of the standard of living was not high yet in China, particularly in rural areas, women were expected to work and earn money to help and contribute to the family income. That is why, in general, chinese women who planned to concentrate on their career were limited in their options.
Furthermore, the rise of science and technology played an essential role in the diminishing of mothers household responsibilities. In fact, the result of these improvements increase consequently the standard of living and the quality of life of Chinese people. It is not unsual to see many modern items such as washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens and gas cookers within Chinese kitchens. Indeed, these items are no longer assimilated with wealth in particular in Chinese metropolis. As a consequence of the rise of science and technology, it became far easier for chinese women to cook, insomuch that now more chinese fathers cook as well (Zai, Maume & Bellas, 2000). It has been argued by Zai, Maume & Bellas (2000) that Chinese husbands contributed more at some household tasks such as washing and ironing clothes and buying and cooking food. Thus, households tasks were not only reserved for Chinese women but now more for Chinese husbands. Moreover, in many Chinese famillies, three-generations live together and share the same roof. Therefore, grandparents can also help Chinese mothers with different tasks such as bring children to school or pack their lunches (Heng, 1994). In regards to household taks, domestic help is rather cheap and quite usual, there are plenty of organizations like Women's Partnership or Neighborhood Associations which also provide the possibility to take care of children. It has been argued by Heng (1994) that in many industries and companies Chinese women can take their children to work and place them in "work-run childcare centers" which operate like a day-nursery. To sum up, the majority of Chinese women who have children did not stop working.
However, the reimbursement of women's expenses in carrying and raising children are paid by the employer and companies where women worked. As a result of this, the percentage between men recruited was very unfavorable for women. That is why, in 1991, a convention has been established with many organizations for the women's rights protection on the purpose of "Compesation of women's expenses of pragnancy". The aim of this convention was to rectify the Chinese welfare and insurance system. As a consequence, two main experimental measures have been chosen; the first one is part of the costs will be financed by taxes, the second one is the costs will be shared between the company and the parents. Those measures assure women workers "three months maternity leave plus a month late accouchement leave with full remuneration and also may apply for accouchement leave for one year with 80% remuneration" (Heng, 1994). These measures encourage a change in society's visions of mother's role in human reproduction. Nevertheless, even with a considerable increase in the acceptance of society's responsibility with respect to childbearing, it is still difficult for the society to accept and endorse its role in reimbursing women (Du & Dong, 2010).

In conclusion, for thousands of years, during the feudal society, the status and role of the mother was just to stay at home, cook for her husband and raise children. Thus, it takes long and hard work to change traditions that have been essentially the same for thousands years. The change and improvement of mother's role began 60 years ago and is still in perpetual improvement. As a result, we cannot dramatically transform overnight the way which society operates in accordance with the status and the role of the mother in. To achieve this aim, it will take the work of many generations with a supportive government and both men and women working to establish great change in the role of women within Chinese society.

Reference List

Womens political, social status improve in china. (2000, May 09). Xinhua News Agency - CEIS, pp. 1-1. http://search.proquest.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/docview/454058160?accountid=14543

Zai, Z. L., Maume, D. J., & Bellas, M. L. (2000). Chinese husbands participation in household labor. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 31(2), 191-215. http://search.proquest.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/docview/232583469?accountid=14543

"The Changing Role and Status of Women in China" by Madame Xie Heng, Council Member of China's Family Planning Association and Foundation for Children and Youth, on September 28, 1994.…...

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