From gender equality to gender difference: feminist campaigns for quotas for women in politics, 1936-1947

The Ohio State University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Twentieth-Century China, 1999, 24 (2), pp. 69 - 105
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In the decade from 1936, Chinese women's rights activists waged a successful campaign to win a set minimum quota ofseats for women in the national legislative bodies. This little-known campaign is a pivotal part of the history of women's participation in politics in the Republic of China (ROC), since it reflects the strategic shift in the feminist struggle for improvements in women's political rights from activism premised on gender equality to that premised on gender difference. It was a direct extension of the Chinese women's suffrage movement of 1911-1936; moreover, the legislative changes effected are still upheld in current Taiwan, ROC electoral laws. This article explores the campaign through which Chinese women lobbied for this special quota with the intention of demonstrating that, contrary to common perceptions, an independent feminist movement did engage in distinct activism on women's political rights during the 'conservative' periods of Nationalist Government rule and the Anti-Japanese War.
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