Constraining women's political work with 'women's-work': the Chinese Communist Party and women's participation in politics

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Chinese Women: Living and Working, 2004, 1, pp. 109 - 130
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One of the key markers used to identify the relative status of women internationally is a comparison of the percentage of women working as politicians. This marker has come into common use over the course of the century and derives from the 'ladder of progress' narrative established by the women's suffrage activists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The suffrage activists accurately predicted that the level of women's engagement with formal politics would be a key measure of a country's level of 'civilization'. At the close of the twentieth century, league tables of progress are commonplace features of United Nations statistics charts and Women's Studies readers (Neft and Levine 1997). The assumption behind these ratings charts is that women's engagement in formal politics indicates women's access to formal political power - women's ability to influence legislative changes that would represent women's interests. Within this logic, women politicians would work for women's social and economic interests through their access to formal political power.
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