Women's Participation in Rural China's Self-Governance: Institutional, Socioeconomic, and Cultural Factors in a Jiangsu County



We examined women's participation in village self-governance in an Eastern Chinese county. While they have more or less been universally participating in voting in village elections, their representation in the village self-governance bodies remains low, and their political aspiration and sense of empowerment remain limited. A wide range of factors contribute to this situation. In general, women enjoy a much lower level of education and are economically dependent upon male members of their families. Social gender, or the stereotypes of women as less competent and are expected to stay away from public affairs, plays a very significant role too. Institutional problems, such as frauds and irregularities in election, lack of government's attention in promoting women's political roles, and the inability of state-sponsored women organizations to influence local governance, all contribute to underrepresentation and inadequate participation of women. Policy responses must look beyond women's electoral participation and address these many deep-rooted issues.