Harare, Zimbabwe(News of the South)-China’s Communist Party holds its party congress and makes leadership changes once every five years.

 

 

The next congress takes place later this month. Many people will be watching those meetings to see who President Xi Jinping appoints to top political positions.

 

 

The party congress is a major event for the group that single-handedly rules the country. But China watchers say anyone following the meetings should not expect women to be given any major positions.

 

 

A number of other Asian nations have elected women as heads of state. But many observers say it remains almost impossible for Chinese women to make important decisions in their country’s political system. They say women remain underrepresented in China’s major policy-making agencies.

 

 

Women unfit to rule

The lack of trust in women in power may have its roots in Chinese history, says Chenni Xu, a member of the Beijing Women’s Network. She says the general public often notes the examples set by the three most powerful women in Chinese history. They are Empress Wu Zetian and Dowager Cixi and Jian Qing, wife of former Communist leader Mao Zedong.

 

“They’ll just point to those three and be like ‘well, see what happens when a woman gets in power? They drag the country down with them,’ Xu said.

 

 

Half of the sky?

When Mao Zedong led China, he famously declared that ‘Women hold up half the sky.’

Many Chinese remember the saying.

 

 

But Xu noted Mao’s call was more about doubling the country’s workforce than gender equality.

Years later, however, as women fill many top positions in private businesses, China’s Communist Party is still largely a group made up of men.

 

 

Vice Premier Liu Yandong is one of a few women at the top. Yet she is not a member of the decision-making Politburo’s Standing Committee. She is unlikely to move up in the leadership changes, observers say.

 

 

Women are responsible for less than 30 percent of the Communist Party’s membership, according to local media reports. There will be about 540 female delegates among the 2,300 delegates who attend the 19th National People’s Congress.

 

William Ide and Joyce Huan reported this story for VOANews.com. Susan Shand adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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