May 19, 2020 in Sociology
Women and Development: China vs India

Gender equality is a trending issue in many countries around the world with much efforts directed to giving women more opportunities to access health and enjoy education and economic opportunities among many other things. Gender equality manifests through many facets. According to Dilli (2015), gender equality manifest through the access to economic resources and opportunities, the power to make sound decisions that impact both the private, public spheres, and the use of time, and so forth. Gender equality refers to the equal rights, opportunities, and responsibilities between males and females. Achieving gender equality is only feasible is sociocultural environments are conducive to recognize both genders as being equal and of great value.

China and India are among some of the countries in the entire world working hard to eliminate gender gaps although there are variations in both their efforts and the subsequent outcomes. Rigi (2011) explain that China is the world's most populated country in human history while India is the largest democracy and the two historical nations have huge markets for their products as a result of the continuously increase middle-class population. The two countries have worked hard in the quest to enhance their economic growth and development, something that has made them attract attentions of many other nations including the United States of America. China is more economically vibrant than India with low levels of gender inequality. Rigi (2011) reiterates that China surpasses India in commerce, manufacturing, and trade in the international market. This paper compares and contrasts women development between China and India.

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Women Education

Although both China and India have high female education representation, Chinese women surpass those of India in this field. According to Gordon (2012), the level of women representation in higher education in India is increasing just like that of China. However, the country does not match the Chinese levels of women literacy because the gender gap among Indian women is huge with most of them residing in remote and rural regions of the country. The Chinese society is much tolerant to women acquiring formal education compared to India in which most women lack the opportunity to pursue the same education as a result of the lack of societal will. Rigi (2011) explains that Chinese women cannot be compared to their colleagues in India because their society offers them support to gain much representation not only in education but also economic and leadership matters. Therefore, India has much to do so as to improve literacy levels among its women to reach the Chinese levels.

On the same line, statistics and scientific data indicate that China indeed surpasses India concerning the female literacy levels. Female adult literacy levels in 2011 among the Indian women were 55% among women with 15 years of age and above. This proportion is much smaller than that in China.  China had more than 91.4% female literacy levels in 2011. Such a thing is reflected by the high number of women in Chinese formal institutions of learning compared to the Indian case that has fewer females in education. Mukherjee (2015) reports that female representation in universities in higher than men because more than 50% of the undergraduate and master’s degree education comprises of female students. In India, the males dominate the universities since only 45% of all university students are females, which means that males account for 55% of the university education (Mukherjee, 2015). Female underrepresentation in the education system emanates from the enormous inequalities in gender since the Indian society prefers educating males instead of females. However, the situation is improving although the rate at which the improvement is occurring does not match that of China. Therefore, Chinese women are much more developed when it comes to the acquisition of education than their Indian colleagues.

Women Leadership

Although the Asians are underrepresented in women leadership, both China and India are among some of the top countries in the world to allow women take active leadership roles. Saab (2014) reiterates that India and China are among many of the countries in the world that have created policies and laws to enhance women leadership in their countries. India has seen women take leadership positions, just like China. For instance, Sanjukta Sinha was the first Indian woman chair and direct a public sector bank, first commercial woman banker to head a rural development bank in the country, and the first woman commissioner of the anticorruption board of the government. China equally has outstanding female figures that lead others. A good example is Lijuan Zhao, an outspoken environmental advocate who represents pollution victims in lawsuits among many other things. Such roles were initially preserved for men, but because women in these two countries have gained education and other qualities to assume leadership and management roles, they are now at the helm of administrative and leadership positions.

However, China still surpasses India in women leadership representation. The low education levels cause the low women representation in Indian leadership and the subsequent lack of recognition by the society for this gender to take leadership roles in a patriarchal society. According to Samii, Schragle-Law, and Yan (2008), managers in these two countries have a western style of education and possess global business experience oriented to the west style.  Such a thing denies most women to take an opportunity in leadership because they already have low literacy levels compared to their Chinese friends who registers high literacy levels. For instance, the Chinese parliament has allotted more than 21 seats to females, which is more than twice of what the situation is in India (Rigi, 2011).  Such a thing shows that in China, women have a greater recognition in the legislation system as well as other leadership areas that the underrepresented Indian women.

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Women Employment

Just like the case of education and leadership, Chinese women are more represented in the employment sector that their Indian colleagues. In 2011, the employment rate among the Chinese women between 15 and 64 years of age was 71.5%, which is more than 25.0% of the Indian women of the same age. The Chinese women also seem to enjoy better incomes than their Indian friends because of better education workforce, higher relative wage rights, and an aging workforce.  China surpasses India in this aspect because of the small average family sizes, many privileges for women to acquire formal education and smaller proportion of women living in rural areas. About 70% of India is rural, and women in these places are treated poorly compared to the rural Chinese women (Bradley, 2012). The one-child policy in China has lead to smaller family sizes than in India, which means that Chinese women have a better opportunity to engage in jobs because they have extra time after caring for their families. Bradley (2012) explains that an average family in India has 5.2 children while China has only one child because of the one child policy. The huge Indian families compel women to stay in homes rather than pursue activities that can enhance their economic development.


Women in India are less developed than their Chinese colleagues in the fields of education, leadership, and employment. The Chinese society has a high regard for women education, which makes them have high representation in higher education, something that is absent in India. Although women in the two countries are improving their presence in leadership, China surpasses India because women representation in leadership is higher than in India. Finally, women in India are fewer in the employment sector than in China.

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