PERSONAL NOTE: What are the solutions to the problem of having more children in China? Build a bridge between our birth [control] and socioeconomic policies.
Government should develop day care services in urban areas for toddlers, families with children would be granted benefits and income tax deductions, and women returning to workforce would be given support. Government is not doing enough to meet the needs of families. The nation’s policy and public services should be based on women’s needs and rights. More should be done to encourage men to shoulder greater responsibility for raising children and providing fair career opportunities for women. Yes, today’s women in China need assistance from everyone in the soceity, from the government to the families to the husbands! steve, usa, march 7, 2019 firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
What Chinese women really want when it comes to children and reproductive rights
• China has abandoned its one-child policy but the worries are not over for unmarried women and parents struggling to afford childcare by Mimi Lau, Echo Xie March 8, 2019 SCMP
As China prepares to mark International Women’s Day on Friday, Meng Fanyu in Handan, in the northern province of Hebei, wonders if she should celebrate or spend her time planning the family’s budget as they wait for the arrival of a second child.
The 31-year-old cashier went through half a dozen pregnancy test kits last week to confirm that she was indeed pregnant with a second child.
The pregnancy is a welcome surprise but Meng worries about whether her family will be able to raise a second child with a monthly household income of 7,000 yuan (US$1,042) and whether she will have to quit her job at a delivery company to look after the children at home.
Childcare services in China are expensive, costing up to 5,000 yuan a month in major cities.
But there could be some relief for people like Meng with Premier Li Keqiang’s announcement at the start of the National People’s Congress this week that the government is willing to spend more on infant and childcare services partly to help boost domestic consumption.
Fertility rates have been high on the political agenda in discussions at this year’s congress where delegates have made various proposals for more childcare services, tax cuts, holidays, family welfare
Feng Yuan, a leading women’s rights advocate in China, said policymakers and lawmakers were finally paying attention to worrying population trends and women’s demands around reproductive rights.
“Chinese women have been historically seen as reproductive tools … but today they are making their voices heard with action and demands,” Feng said.
An end to the one-child policy in 2016 meant Meng narrowly escaped the compulsory insertion of an intrauterine device after the birth of her first child but many others, including her mother and sister-in-law, were not so fortunate.
“Back in the days of the one-child policy, every woman in China had to have a birth permit together with a marriage certificate before they could give birth at hospital,” she said.
“Back then you had to pay 300 yuan and have ultrasounds four times a year to prove that you were not pregnant with a second child. You would only be reimbursed if you agreed to wear the intrauterine device.”
Childcare services in China are expensive, costing up to 5,000 yuan a month in major cities. Photo: EPA
Despite the relaxation in the birth policy, China is facing a population crisis. There were just 15.23 million children born in the country in 2018, 2 million fewer than the 2017 total, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The 2018 birth rate was the lowest in the country since 1961.
This decline is on top of a shrinking workforce, ageing population and China’s slowing economic outlook, but Chinese officials are not ready to totally give up control of family planning.
During an NPC meeting on Tuesday, top family planning official Wang Peian said “the two-child policy is already enough to meet the childbirth demands of most families”.
Wang, the deputy head of the China Family Planning Association, suggested that the high cost of raising children and the lack of childcare services were the main factors driving China’s declining birth rates.
“We must seek to build a bridge between our birth [control] and socioeconomic policies,” Wang said.“
He said the government would develop day care services in urban areas for toddlers, families with children would be granted benefits and income tax deductions, and women returning to workforce would be given support.
But Feng said the government was not doing enough to meet the needs of families.
“Our nation’s policy and public services should be based on women’s needs and rights. More should be done to encourage men to shoulder greater responsibility for raising children and providing fair career opportunities for women,” she said.
China’s two-child policy under fire as parents’ bank account frozen for having third child
Huang Xihua, an NPC delegate from Huizhou in Guangdong province, ignited debate at the congress with a called for the two-child policy to be scrapped and for unmarried women to be granted equal rights to have children.
Until 2016, unmarried women had to pay a heavy fine and faced stiff restrictions in obtaining urban residency for their children. Without the residency qualification, their children would be denied social benefits such as health care and free education.
Now, as it confronts a demographic crisis, the Chinese government is encouraging people to have more children, dropping some of the old administrative controls on unmarried women. However, the Ministry of Health continues to bar unmarried women from access to reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilisation.
Zhan Yingying, from the Guangzhou-based Advocates for Diverse Family Network, said there were growing calls to better protect the reproductive rights of unmarried women.
“Equal reproductive rights for single women are also basic human rights,” she said.