Woman in top job, but they're few and far between
The mainland has a woman provincial governor once again, more than a year after the last one stepped down.
Li Bin, former minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), was elected governor of Anhui by the provincial people's congress on Wednesday.
The last woman governor was Song Xiuyan, the head of Qinghai province from 2005 to 2010.
Li's election had been expected; the 58-year-old was appointed Anhui's deputy Communist Party secretary and acting governor in December. She is one of just two women serving in top provincial-level posts, the other being Fujian party secretary Sun Chunlan , 61.
Li, from Fushun in Liaoning, has spent most of her political career in Jilin province. After starting out as a teacher at the Changchun Institute of Education in 1974, Li became a junior party official in charge of propaganda in Changchun after four years studying political economics at Jilin University.
She first served as a provincial-level official in 1994, when she was named deputy director of Jilin's Planning Commission.
Li was appointed an assistant Jilin governor six years later and then promoted to deputy governor in 2001.
She became deputy director of the NPFPC in 2007 and was promoted to minister a year later.
Pan Ligang, a director in charge of cadres at the Communist Party Central Committee's organisation department who announced Li's appointment as acting governor in December, spoke highly of her.
'Li stands firm in politics with a good sense of the overall interests. She has rich experience as a leader after serving in numerous posts,' People's Daily quoted Pan as saying. 'She had made great achievements in advancing the course of population and family planning during her time as minister.'
Professor Zhu Qianwei, from Fudan University's school of international relations and public affairs, said Li's appointment showed the party's determination to treat the sexes equally when appointing officials, even though there are only a few women in senior posts.
'Appointing women to such high-level posts serves more of a symbolic purpose, showing that women are valued equally to men and they can represent women's interests,' Zhu said.
He said there was room to appoint more women to high-level positions such as the Politburo to reflect social changes that have seen women do as well as, if not better, than men in academic study and work.
In its Outline for the Development of Chinese Women (2011-2020), the State Council said last year that at least one seat should be reserved for women in governments above the county level by 2020.
Liu Yandong, the only woman in the 25-member Politburo, is the highest-ranking female official on the mainland, and has strong ties to President Hu Jintao.