Tech lifts status of nation's women

Updated: 2012-05-18 11:16

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

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The social status of Chinese women has markedly improved in the past decade because of the application of information and communication technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the All-China Women's Federation said on Thursday.

The country has surpassed the United States to become the largest Internet country, having 512 million Internet users, up 278 percent from 2005, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

"Information technology has provided new paths and opportunities for Chinese women to be involved in social and economic activities, and further increased their social status," said Tan Lin, the director of the Women's Studies Institute of China, which is the research arm of ACWF.

"A decade ago, Chinese women had very little access to online information. Only 7 percent of them had used information technology services, while the percentage was 38 percent in the US and 17 percent in China's neighbor Japan back then," said Xia Jun, associate professor at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

According to the ACWF, women now make up about 44 percent of China's Internet population, and 53.1 percent of women have ventured into cyberspace for work and study.

"The ratios of women writing blogs and chatting online are higher than for men in China, which means the development of information technology has improved Chinese women's social networking ability," Xia said.

She said 17.6 percent of women used the Internet to invest.

However, in some rural areas, the access to information remains very limited. The first two choices for rural women when seeking information are watching TV and getting news from other people.

About 90 percent of rural women get domestic and overseas information through the TV, the association said.

However, the Internet is the first choice for Americans to access information, according to a Chinese media report.

Chinese women's access to information technology still has much room for improvement, said MIIT Vice-Minister Shang Bing.

Only about 29 percent of Chinese women had used the Internet last year, compared with 75 percent in the US in 2010, according to the US-based Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project.

"Women have become the drivers for China's e-commerce, and we will further improve the development of the country's broadband construction to increase the quality of life and information access for women in China," said Shang.

China is expected to have 20 million new broadband Internet subscribers this year and a total of 250 million subscribers by the end of 2015, the ministry announced earlier this year.