Lawyers pitch remedies to stanch falling fertility rates
China's falling fertility rate and aging population in Shanghai have triggered discussions among local lawyer members of the city's political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The number of babies born in Shanghai in 2020 was about 127,600 compared with 169,000 the previous year. A total fertility rate of 2.1 is healthy for a country, but the average number of children per female is currently 1.3 in China.
"We can offer more options such as allowing unmarried women to freeze their eggs," said lawyer Qiu Suo from Shanghai AllBright Law Offices who unveiled her draft proposal during a press conference held by Shanghai Bar Association.
The egg freeze proposal was for consideration at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 13th CPPCC Shanghai Committee, which kicked off on Wednesday.
The city's leading lawyers, CPPCC members and NPC members had heated discussions and shared their proposals for 2022's annual political sessions.
Their suggestions about fertility rate also addressed housing, the birth approval certificate, social welfare, restrictions on household registration, and women's employment issues.
"Giving more holidays to women having babies but no more holidays to their partners will intensify employment discrimination for women," said lawyer Hu Guang from Shanghai MHP Law Firm.
"The solution is to give men the same leave as women, and also improve social welfare for women," he said.
On the other hand, lawyer Xu Shanshan, from Zhong Lun Law Firm's Shanghai office, said that to counter the low birth and fertility rates the city should relax household registration for children born overseas.
Lawyer Tong Lin from Hengdu Law Firm suggested improving public welfare facilities, such as the number of baby-care rooms and barrier-free facilities in public places, to give couples a more comfortable environment to bring up a baby.
In addition to the fertility-rate issue, the lawyers also made proposals on housing problems, impunity rules for minor offenders, pet-dog management and other hot topics.
Despite undertaking different social roles as NPC members or CPPCC members, Shanghai's lawyers keep a close eye on hot issues and problems affecting people's well-being, Shanghai Bar Association said.
The city's legal fraternity of 35,065 lawyers in 1,776 law firms has taken part in the city's political affairs over 30 years, including in recent years being actively involved in the law-making process for the Pudong New Area.
It has also provided many recommendations, including three systematic suggestions, five professional opinions and one judicial and law-enforcement guarantee suggestion, the association said.
Member proposals for last year's CPPCC Shanghai Committee, consisting of over 250,000 words in 170 chapters, were recorded by the association.