The Course Of Chinese Women’s Movement

The development in women’s organization is an important achievement of China’s current women’s movement. However, the growth of new women’s organizations since the early 1980’s has broken the monopoly of the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF). Emerging first were the women’s professional and occupational organizations.

Around 1986, a second type of new organizations came up – like in salons, in universities and interdisciplinary, cross- occupational research organizations. These were also initiated by women intellectuals and professionals.

Tensions between these two forces emerged especially when the research based organizations began to develop. These tensions have been largely attributed to some conservative leaders of the ACWF.

Whether from the governmental or non governmental sector, the driving force of the current women’s movement is women themselves. Their discussions on women’s issues are no longer confined within parameters set by the state. They are defining new issues for the women’s movement.

One controversial issue is the assessment of the period from 1949 to 1956. Some believe that this era was characterized by the CCP’s top-down approach to the woman question in which women were not the conscious subject of the movement. Other scholars contend that the top-down approach to women’s issues was perfectly compatible with a thriving women’s movement since women assumed leadership, women’s interest were represented and women were the subject. This view emphasizes that women’s liberation and the inclusion of women’s liberation on the state agenda were “earned” by women through their hard struggle and sacrifice during the revolution.

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