Staggering data about the status of women in leadership roles in China has been released as the Women in China’s Leadership report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Women make up almost half of China’s 1.4 billion population. Of the approximately 92 million CCP members, there are about 28 million women or roughly 30% of the CCP’s total. Women have limited representation and voice across the top echelons of China’s political system. Historically, female representatives have rarely constituted more than 10% of the roughly 300-member CCP Central Committee. Only six women have ever served in the 25-member Politburo, and three of those were wives of other top leaders.
No woman has ever served on the Politburo Standing Committee or held any of the top three positions in China’s political system: CCP General Secretary, Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), and State President. Female representation in key government roles such as ministries and provincial governorships is also extremely low. The percentage of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) service members who are female is not publicly available, but China Military Online, an official publication of the PLA, estimated in 2015 that approximately 5% or less are women. Currently, no women hold senior command or political commissar positions.
The highest rank a woman in the PLA has ever achieved is Lieutenant General, with one woman promoted to Lieutenant General in 1993 and a second in 2010.