'Woman power' proposals prominent in city's political forum discussions

Ke Jiayun
Protection of female workers' rights during maternity leave and free HPV vaccinations for young girls raised by female and male delegates to CPPCC.
Ke Jiayun

When browsing through proposals made by the city's political advisers this year, I found many of them dealt with "woman power."

They focused on issues like the protection of female employees' rights during extended maternity leave, free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for young girls and egg freezing for single women.

Most of these topics were proposed by female CPPCC members, but some were made by their male fellows, such as that by Lu Jingbo about ensuring mothers' rights under the three-child policy.

Whether male or female, these local CPPCC members had done detailed investigations to understand the dilemmas of women in various situations.

"In my investigation, some women said they could never have independence of personality if they were not independent in the economy," CPPCC member Cao Yanchun told Shanghai Daily.

"If extension of the maternity leave caused enterprise discrimination towards them, they would decide to not have a child. If the male and female family members could bear the same cost of reproduction, then the disadvantage for women would disappear and they would receive less discrimination in employment."

This year Cao and 26 other political advisers made a proposal to provide enterprises, especially those of smaller size, with government subsidies or maternity insurance as a makeup for their payments to female employees during longer maternity leave periods.

Cao has led several proposals submitted to the two sessions about women's rights in recent years. She has done projects about anti-employment discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

"I'm a female political adviser with the CPPCC Shanghai Committee's women's sector," Cao said.

"I'm also an executive committee member of the women's federation in the Pudong New Area. I do research into laws on labor and social security, and the protection of women's rights is an important part of it," said Cao, explaining the reason why she pays so much attention to women's issues. "It's my duty to call for the interests of women."

Weng Wenlei, vice president of the city's women's federation, presented with another 12 CPPCC members a proposal for free HPV vaccinations for girls aged between 9 and 15.

"HPV prevention is always a focus of the national women's federation in regional areas," said Weng. "The most serious result of HPV infection is cervical cancer and the death rate caused by it is not low. So we think such prevention is of great importance."

According to Weng, the WHO's strategy is that, by 2030, 90 percent of girls should be fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 15 years of age and China is one of the countries joining this strategy. The National Health Commission also has done a lot of trials on it in many areas, including Shanghai.

"But we still hope that this issue could be sped up," Weng said.

The Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party Shanghai Committee also has filed a proposal on HPV vaccination.

"We hope Shanghai can lead the research and development of China's home-made HPV vaccines to benefit women and children all over the country," said a party member Chen Fangyuan.

From my interviews with these CPPCC members, I noticed that no matter what gender they are, they did care about women's health and employment and made efforts to eliminate the negative effects brought by childbirth and the burdens on them from many social aspects.

As a female journalist, I'm honored that I can fight for it together with them through my voice and texts. Women can now have equal rights with men in various areas, but since women bear more burdens in things like reproduction, we can do more to protect female interests.

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