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Special feature

“Being a Good Daughter of the Party”?

A Neo-Institutional Analysis of the All-China Women’s Federation Organisational Reforms in China’s Xi Era
Yunyun Zhou
p. 17-28


Like other socialist institutions surviving in China’s market reforms, the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF or WF when referring to its local branches), as the only state-sponsored organisation representing women’s interests, has been constantly refashioning itself to meet new existential challenges. In July 2015, the central leadership of the Chinese Communist Party commanded a new wave of mass organisational reforms, in which the Women’s Federation’s alienation from the grassroots and a weakening representation of women’s interests were questioned. After three years of intensive reform, are the local structures of the ACWF being substantially improved to reconnect to its mass base? Drawing from extensive fieldwork in three provinces and a neo-institutional analysis, this article argues that in the short term, although the reform serves principally as a consolidation of Party authority, local Women’s Federations are creatively using the reform to expand their popular base and broaden their representativeness. In the long term, however, local WFs are facing unreformed institutional problems such as political marginalisation, bureaucratisation, and ineffective implementation, which stagnate further development of China’s state feminism.

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Bibliographical reference

Yunyun Zhou, « “Being a Good Daughter of the Party”? », China Perspectives, 2019-2 | 2019, 17-28.

Electronic reference

Yunyun Zhou, « “Being a Good Daughter of the Party”? », China Perspectives [Online], 2019-2 | 2019, Online since 10 June 2019, connection on 19 September 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Yunyun Zhou

Yunyun Zhou is a PhD candidate in contemporary Chinese studies at University of Oxford and a visiting researcher at Centre de Recherches Sociologiques et Politiques de

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