CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Holding Up Half the Sky: Democracy and its Implications for Chinese Women

Annie L. Lee, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Avery Goldstein

Date of this Version: 30 March 2009

This document has been peer reviewed.



China is democratizing, but what does this entail for Chinese women, a relatively powerless group within society? This thesis focuses on the implications of democracy for women in China through comparing and contrasting the efficacy of electoral participation and civil society in empowering women. It finds that civil society, as seen in government-organized non-government organizations such as the All-China Women’s Federation and more independent non-government organizations, are more beneficial to women since these groups provide much-needed services and also communicate the concerns of women to the government elite in Beijing. In contrast, electoral participation at the village level has limited influence on the male-dominated power structure in China. In fact, voting disadvantages women in several key ways and has failed to inspire them to become politically engaged. The conclusion that civil society, not electoral participation, is more effective at empowering women is further corroborated by two comparative analyses, one with the Former Soviet Union and Soviet Bloc and the other with South Korea.


Law | Law and Gender | Law and Politics

Suggested Citation

Lee, Annie L., "Holding Up Half the Sky: Democracy and its Implications for Chinese Women" 30 March 2009. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania,

Date Posted: 26 May 2009

This document has been peer reviewed.




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