Gender bender holiday on agenda

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 May, 2011, 12:00am


Men in Shenzhen are one step closer to what many have been calling for - a special day that would give them half a day off work to match International Women's Day.

A draft provision on gender equality issued on Saturday by the All Women's Federation in the special economic zone would see it become the first mainland city to designate such a holiday for men.

The 'Men's Care Day' would likely fall on October 28, which was designated by the National Population and Family Planning Commission more than a decade ago as Men's Health Awareness Day.

Under the draft bill, fathers would also be entitled to no fewer than 30 days of paternity leave before their babies turned one, the Shenzhen Special Economic Daily reports.

The gender equality provision, the first of its kind in China, includes several legal safeguards to uphold gender equality through flexible retirement ages for women, equal pay for both sexes and the introduction of child-bearing allowances for both spouses.

The municipal government would be bound to push for greater gender equality by introducing gender-specific statistics collections and audits, as well as a special committee promoting equal opportunity for both sexes.

The draft document is also unprecedented is its proposed protection of men's rights.

Men's rights has been a topic of conversation because their physical and mental wellbeing is often overlooked in traditional Chinese male culture, which portrays men as aggressive and less forthcoming in expressing themselves.

The move has not impressed Dr Fang Gang, a gender specialist at the Beijing Forestry University, who said highlighting the stress men faced overlooked the plight of women.

He said a Men's Care Day would be at odds with a document promoting gender equality.

'Such a day should nurture men's greater involvement in what women traditionally do at work and at home and their involvement in the fight against gender inequality towards women,' Fang said.

He said he wanted to know what the women's federation suggested Shenzhen men do on their half-day.

'Are they expected to spend the half-day playing with their kids, do nothing but wait for their wife to come home and put dinner on the table, or go out drinking?'