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Legal Protection for Job Opportunities for Women

South China's Guangzhou municipality is mulling legislation seeking to widen job opportunities for women by outlawing "males only" restrictions in job vacancies, according to a bill submitted to the municipal people's congress.


The bill, proposed by Li Jin, a congress representative and President of the Guangzhou Municipal Women's Federation, backed by other women's rights advocates, said employers will face a maximum fine of 5,000 yuan (about US$641) if found to be imposing gender restrictions on jobs that women are capable of doing.


Li said although national regulation stipulates that some heavy-labor jobs like mining are not suitable for women, "males only" or "males preferred" restrictions have oft been abused by employers.


The restrictions are an outrageous infringement on women's rights, Li said. However, skepticism remains as to how the law will make much difference in practice.


Wu Changzhen, Vice President of the Beijing Women's Federation, said that even if women apply, employers can invent pretexts to avoid hiring them.


According to a survey carried out by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, over 67 percent of employers have prevented women from applying for certain positions.


Most employers don’t hire women due to concerns over marriage and pregnancy negatively impacting upon their job performance, said Yang Yansui, director of the Employment and Social Security Research Center of Tsinghua University.


It will take a lot more efforts, including regulations and awareness campaigns, to eliminate discrimination against women, Yang said.


Apart from trying to remove gender barriers in employment, the bill includes clauses to protect women from sexual harassment and domestic violence and is currently is under discussion in the local people's congress.


(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2007)

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