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China's bamboo ceiling

posted 24 Sep 2012, 03:10 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 24 Sep 2012, 03:11 ]

Many women have been successful at the top of China's business ladder, but they are largely absent when it comes to high-level politics. The upcoming China leadership change shows little chance of that changing.
CHINA-BAMBOO CEILING -

She's running a country.

She's in charge of US foreign policy.

She's been a gamechanger in the region.

But in China -- a column of men lead the nation of 1.3 billion people. Out of 24 Politburo members at the top of China's leadership

there's one woman - Liu Yandong. She's in her late sixties but is still mentioned as a potential candidate for a high-ranking post.


CHINA STUDIES PROFESSOR AT CHINESE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG, WILLY LAM SAID:

"There are real hurdles for even promising very smart and bright and aggressive women cadres going up the hierarchy because I think in the Chinese tradition there is still a very entrenched notion that matters of state should still be run by men so there is a very strong patriarchal tradition in Chinese politics and this hasn't gone away in spite of the fantastic development of the economy."


China has its fair share of female movers and shakers. In business, sports, and even in space.

But in government? Even though Mao famously said women will hold up half the sky, politics is a near no-go zone.


Wives of senior politicians - also largely out of the spotlight.


In US politics - first ladies are almost as well known as their husbands. But who is the wife of outgoing President Hu Jintao? She has sometimes been seen - but quietly, very quietly by his side .


Leader in waiting Xi Jinping's wife once a famous singer - known for entertaining the PLA troops. Now - largely absent from view.


PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AT FUDAN UNIVERSITY, GU LIMEI, SAID:

"In traditional Confucian belief, the woman's place is in the home, and it's been that way for much of China's long history. Women's work was seen as housework, and that has impacted all of Chinese society."


Those political wives who've grabbed the spotlight - have faced bitter ends.


Radical leftist and wife of Mao Zedong - Jiang Qing . Jailed as the leader of the Gang of Four during China's cultural revolution which cost millions of lives.


And recently Gu Kailai - wife of purged politician Bo Xilai - Now in jail for the murder of a British businessman.


China's upcoming leadership change is being closely watched for signs the country is evolving - But unless women take a larger role at the top of a strictly hierarchical party - real change may be hard to come by.


Tara Joseph, Reuters.

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