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In its 2005 White Paper on Gender Equality, China announced that its legal system offers women workers complete protection of their rights and interests. However, this strong political declaration has to face an uncomfortable ‘reality check’. New forms of gender discrimination at the workplace have emerged in more subtle ways, and usually under the disguise of protecting women, as authorities have outlawed traditional types of prejudice based on gender. This article draws on a survey of opinions in 25 cities about women in the workplace, to demonstrate how pervasive attitudes to men and women in China have systemically worked against women at work in the new reform era. The article goes on to examine the effectiveness of existing gender equality laws, and identifies their weaknesses. In China promoting gender equality is a course of promoting long-lasting changes in society. In the final part of the article, the authors make concrete suggestions to legislators, judiciary, and international donors on remedying workplace inequalities in China.

This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.

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