China’s Ruling Party One-Third Female 100 Years After Founding

Mao Zedong said “women hold up half the sky.” But they still make up less than one-third of the party he helped found a century ago.

Some 28.8% of the Communist Party’s more than 95 million members were female as of this month, the party’s Organization Department said Wednesday in a statement posted on a website of the official Xinhua News Agency. That compares with 23.3% a decade ago.

The party is celebrating its 100th anniversary in July, with President Xi Jinping holding up social accomplishments as evidence of its legitimacy to rule the nation of 1.4 billion people. Mao, who was among the group that founded the party in 1921, made gender equality an early tenet and China’s constitution says women “enjoy equal rights with men in all spheres.”

Still, only one woman, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, currently sits on the Communist Party’s 25-member Politburo. And no woman has ever held a seat on the more powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

While it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with other major political parties around the world, women are underrepresented in government globally. They make up less than 26% of the parliament members around the world and only around 6% of all heads of state or government, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a group that describes itself as a “global organization of national parliaments” that promotes democratic governance.

The party has 95.15 million members, up 3.5% from 2019, according to the Organization Department. Some 20 million applied between the start of 2020 and June 5.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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