Chinese women’s bodies were politicized and nationalized for generations. At first, it was called upon to have more children; then, it was monitored by the one-child policy. After years of relative silence, China’s looming demographic crisis has pushed women’s reproductive rights back to center stage.
So far, China has been trying to boost the country’s declining birth rate by supportive measures, such as reducing education costs. Recent initiatives include:
👉 Loosening the One Child Policy in 2015 and 2021
👉 Beijing and Shanghai extending maternity leave by 30 days
👉 Wiping out the private education sector and introducing significant reforms to the education system
Yet more extreme measures were mentioned as well: A government blueprint in 2021 revealed China is looking to reduce abortions for ‘non-medical reasons.’ The document did not elaborate on the meaning or implementation of such a policy, citing “improving women’s reproductive health” as a target.
But even after all these regulations, China still largely discriminates against its very own target audience – if that audience isn’t wearing a ring:
👉 Single women in China are not allowed to adopt a child
👉 Single women cannot access assisted reproductive technologies (IVF, sperm bank, freezing eggs)
👉 In most cases, single women cannot claim maternity benefits
Based on China’s complicated history with abortion, it is not likely that a sweeping ban will be introduced in the near future. However, these support measures – backed by a media campaign calling on women to have more children – will upend the lives of millions of women in upcoming years, both personally and professionally. In the meantime, women’s bodies remain – in China and worldwide – at the mercy of politicians and outdated traditions.
👇 What do you think? Will we see a massive shift in women’s lives in China? I would love to hear your perspective on this below 👇