When Were Women Allowed To Join The Chinese Army

History of Women Allowed To Join The Chinese Army

China has a long and proud military history. Women have been involved in the military since ancient times. The earliest known female military leader was the legendary Empress Dowager Cixi of the Ching Dynasty. She is known for her leadership in many battles, and for her strategic vision.
Today, women in China make up approximately 12% of the People’s Liberation Army’s active servicemembers, or about 300,000 out of 2.3 million people. This proportion is higher than that of many Western countries.
Women’s official participation in the Chinese military began in 1949, shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. During the civil war, women could volunteer to join the army if they met the physical requirements, such as being strong and healthy, and could pass physical tests.
However, the number of female servicemembers was relatively low until the mid-1980s. By the end of the decade, there were more than 100,000 servicewomen serving in the Chinese military, mostly in the Air Force, Navy and other supporting roles.

Recent Changes in Chinese Army Regulations

More recently, a major shift has been seen in Chinese military regulations. In March 2011, a new regulation was passed allowing women to enlist in the ground forces and serve in both combat and non-combat positions. This marked a significant change from the previous policy of only allowing women in military service in “non-combat” roles.
In 2015, the Chinese government also introduced a new quota system, which required all military units to have at least 10% of their members to be women. This quota was revised in 2017, increasing the proportion of women in the Chinese military to 15%, and in 2020, it was further increased to 20%.

Benefits of Women in Chinese Military

Apart from providing more opportunities to women, this policy change has also had other benefits. Studies have shown that mixed military units are more effective than all-male units, as they are better at dealing with certain types of stress.
Having more women in the military has also been beneficial in terms of creating greater gender diversity within the organization. This has resulted in increased motivation and productivity among servicemembers, as well as improved morale.
In addition, more women in the military can help to improve international relations and increase the number of soldiers that can be sent abroad for United Nations peacekeeping missions.

Challenges Faced by Women in the Chinese Military

Despite the advances made in the past few decades, there are still some challenges facing women in the Chinese military. There continues to be a lack of representation of women in key positions, such as leadership roles.
Women are also often discriminated against in terms of promotion, award and recognition. This is due to both cultural factors, such as gender stereotypes, as well as lack of access to training and educational opportunities.
Many women also face physical and psychological pressures. For example, due to the heavy workload and long working hours, they are more prone to exhaustion and burnout. They are also more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than their male counterparts.

Women Breaking the Norms in Chinese Military

Despite these challenges, there are some remarkable women who have made a name for themselves in the Chinese military. General Zhang Yizang, for example, was the first female air force commander in China, and a trailblazer for other women in the military.
In 2016, China also sent its first female astronaut, Liu Yang, into space. She made international headlines by becoming the first Chinese woman to travel outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Major General Wang Yan also broke gender barriers when she became the first female commander of a People’s Liberation Army Ground Force Corps in 2017.

Objectives & Support for Female Chinese Army Servicemembers

To further support female servicemembers in the military, in 2019, the Chinese government passed a plan to improve their rights and welfare. This included the introduction of new maternity and childcare policies, as well as providing education grants and scholarships to support female servicemembers in higher education.
The government has also taken steps to ensure gender equality in military appointment processes. To this end, it has established a database of qualified female applicants and invited them to apply for promotion posts.
In addition, the government has established a fairer recruitment system for military service, in which male and female applicants are now evaluated on the same standards.

Continued Work for Equality & Opportunities for Women in Chinese Military

Looking ahead, there is still much work to be done to ensure that Chinese women have equal opportunities within the military. This includes eliminating gender discrimination and stereotypes and providing more training and development opportunities for servicewomen.
The government must also continue to develop and implement policies and programs to support female servicemembers. This includes policies to ensure equal pay and promotion rights, as well as benefits such as childcare and flexible working arrangements.
In particular, the government should focus on promoting women in leadership and decision-making roles. By doing so, Chinese women will be able to break gender barriers, achieve greater recognition and achieve greater influence in the military.

Female Icons & Inspiration for Future Women Servicemembers

Finally, female role models in the Chinese military are essential for inspiring the next generation of servicewomen. General Zhang Yizang and Major General Wang Yan, for instance, have become icons for young women in China and abroad.
Other distinguished servicewomen like Liu Yang and Sun Yunling have also inspired many with their courage and determination. They have proven to the world that women can excel in the military and rise to the top of their field.
Ultimately, these remarkable women are paving the way for more opportunities and success for female servicemembers in the Chinese military. By opening the doors to more gender diversity, they are allowing Chinese women to serve their country with honour and courage.

Letha Wimmer is a military expert with more than a decade of direct experience in the U.S. Army and National Guard. She specializes in researching and writing about the world's armies and their capabilities, equipment, capabilities, strategies, organizations, and operations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation from Middle Tennessee State University as well as an Aerial Firefighting Certificate and numerous other advanced aviation certifications. She also enjoys traveling to distant lands to gain firsthand knowledge about their military forces and has written extensively for various websites on the subject.

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