Women completely absent from the top brass under Xi’s new term

By Álvaro Alfaro

Beijing, Oct 24 (EFE).- For the first time in 20 years, China will not have any women sitting on the Political Bureau of the Communist Party as Xi Jinping began an unprecedented third term as president.

The number of seats of the Politburo has been reduced from 25 to 24, all of them taken by men.

Despite revolutionary leader Mao Zedong’s proclamation that women “hold up half the sky”, the Politburo’s Standing Committee — a group of seven individuals from among the 24 top officials — has never had a woman member, something that is to remain unchanged during the next five years.

The only woman member in the former Politburo, 72-years old Sun Chunlan, has just retired.

She was the woman with the highest-ranking in the CCP, 28% of whose 95 million members are women.

No other woman was appointed to take her seat after she stepped down, instead, the bureau shrunk.

The absence of women in the Politburo has become a taboo subject on the social media app Weibo, which was tightly censored during the 20th National Congress of the CCP. There are no results available for the search of the terms “women in the Politburo.”

Some women have denounced the situation in banned foreign social media apps like Twitter.

“We all know that there has never been equality in the Chinese bureaucracy and that, if women were to gain access, it would cease to be the men’s game it has always been,” said one user.

The lack of women in power does not correspond with their participation in public life. According to the World Bank, 62% of Chinese women are part of the country’s labor force, a higher number than neighboring Japan (53%), South Korea (53%) or India (19%).

Also, China is ranked 39th out of 189 countries on the United Nations Development Programme.

Despite gender quotas being enforced in other political institutions of the country — like in the National People’s Congress, which will be reserving 22% of its seats for women — the Politburo will be formed exclusively by men for the next five years.

It is a similar story in other communist nations.

None of the 15 members of North Korea’s Workers’ Party Politburo is a woman; the Vietnamese Communist Party has only one woman among 18 members, and in Laos and Cuba, there are two women among 11 members and three among 14 in their respective politburos. EFE


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