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Special Feature. Chinese Women: Becoming Half the Sky?


Isabelle Attané
Translated by Elizabeth Guill
p. 2-3


There are now 650 million women in China, almost 10 percent of the world’s population. Yet this impressive number is not equal to half of China’s population. The last population census (2010), the results of which were published in the middle of the year, confirms this: China remains, together with India, one of the very few countries in the world where men are in the majority. This situation is proof, if ever there was, of the discrimination to which Chinese women are still subjected, and raises many questions. For even though the country’s economic development over the last 30 years or more has been remarkable, and the overall standard of living has risen significantly, women and men are still not on an equal footing. The fact remains that all Chinese women do not, as famously formulated by Mao and recently epitomized by Liu Yang, China’s first woman astronaut in space, hold up “half the sky.” The rights and interests of women are nevertheless increasingly protected by law, and the fight for equality between the sexes regularly brings new victories. Liu Yandong, the first woman rumoured to be considered for nomination as a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, can be seen as a good example. However, although these remarkable feminine achievements are part of a general trend towards promoting the status of women, the extreme complexity of recent social changes is nonetheless evident…

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Bibliographical reference

Isabelle Attané, « Editorial », China Perspectives, 2012/4 | 2012, 2-3.

Electronic reference

Isabelle Attané, « Editorial », China Perspectives [Online], 2012/4 | 2012, Online since 01 December 2012, connection on 23 September 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Isabelle Attané

Demographer and sinologist at the Institut national d’études démographiques (National Institute of Demographic Studies) and habilitated to supervise graduate research (HDR).
INED, 133, boulevard Davout, 75980 Paris Cedex 20, France (

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