This year let's celebrate … China leading the world in wealthy self-made women | Lijia Zhang

International Women's Day: But Chinese women's participation in politics is seriously lagging behind other countries

Chairman Mao's famous statement that "Women can hold up half of the sky" remains as illusive as the sky itself. Yet one thing to celebrate is that China is emerging as the leader for women in business.

According to September's issue of the monthly magazine, the Hurun Report – which is best known for its rich list – seven out of the world's top 10 wealthiest self-made female billionaires are Chinese. The richest is Wu Yajun, executive director of Longfor Properties Co, south-west China, who has a net worth of 42 billion yuan (£4.2bn), and had overtaken talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey (the eighth richest). Of the five wealthiest women, four, Wu included, have made their fortune through China's booming real estate market.

In fact the country now boasts the most self-made female entrepreneurs in the world. I'd attribute this to Chinese women's strong work ethic, determination and aspirations to such success. In China, 70% of women work – which is among the highest female employment in the world. Moreover, working mothers have the support of grandparents or cheap childcare.

Yet despite the impressive achievements, Chinese female entrepreneurs lag behind their male counterparts. Only 11% of the richest people in China are women; with women representing only about 20% of all entrepreneurs.

It's true that in 1949, when Mao's Chinese Communists, took power, women were granted equal rights and opportunities. Yet some old habits die hard and the business world remains male-centred.

Yet for women, the most pressing problems include participation in politics, which seriously lags behind other countries. Only 21.4% of the representatives in our parliament, the National People's Congress, are women, which is short of the 30% of female political participation set in 1995 by the UN, and a woman's promotion in the government too often still depends on her male bosses – who tend to give women subservient roles.

So sadly, there's still a long march before women can truly hold up half of the sky.

• To comment on this article please visit our interactive map of what can be celebrated around the world this International Women's Day


Lijia Zhang

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
This year let's celebrate … Indian women being more visible than ever | Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Mari Marcel Thekaekara: International Women's Day: From pilots and politicians to boxing champs, Indian women are taking on new roles

Mari Marcel Thekaekara

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

Article image
This year let's celebrate … women taking on the government | Natalia Antonova

Natalia Antonova: International Women's Day: From TV celebrities to journalists, many Russian women have taken up brave political causes

Natalia Antonova

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

This year let's celebrate … Afghanistan's grassroots activists | Orzala Ashraf Nemat

International Women's Day: Time to reclaim a day that's been characterised by male leaders giving long boring speeches

Orzala Ashraf Nemat

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

Article image
This year let's celebrate … the Saudi women's driving campaign | Eman Al Nafjan

Eman Al Nafjan: International Women's Day: The campaign got women's rights moving, from political participation to jobs in lingerie shops

Eman Al Nafjan

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

Article image
This year let's celebrate … the US backlash against sexism | Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti: International Women's Day: The Republican primaries have thrown up shocking misogyny, but the response is heartening

Jessica Valenti

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

This year let's celebrate … more dad time for kids in Norway | Maria Reinertsen

Maria Reinertsen: International Women's Day: Increased paternity leave means dads are at home more – which is good for everyone

Maria Reinertsen

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

Article image
This year let's celebrate … a belated discission about women's rights in Chile | Catalina May

Catalina May: International Women's Day: Maternity leave is now longer and abortion is on the agenda, but there is still a way to go

Catalina May

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

Article image
I went to jail for handing out feminist stickers in China | Li Maizi
The backlash is painful, but it coexists with progress as women activists manage – slowly – to bring about a change in attitudes

Li Maizi

08, Mar, 2017 @1:59 AM

Article image
This year let's celebrate … a new energy and spirit among UK feminist activists | Anna Bird

Anna Bird: International Women's Day: Women's rights, needs and status have been at the centre stage of politics as we fight the cuts

Anna Bird

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM

Article image
This year let's celebrate … the women of Sudan's Nuba mountains | Lubna Hussein

International Women's Day: There's little progress outside of the breakaway south. But in the Nuba mountains there is bravery

Lubna Hussein

08, Mar, 2012 @8:00 AM