During the late Qin and early Han dynasty (221 BC – 220 AD), women in China were traditionally prohibited from joining the army, due to a cultural belief that women were perceived as weak and delicate. Women who defied this custom and joined the military were killed. The Chinese military had long stood by this precedent for thousands of years. In 1910, however, the tide began to shift thanks to the advent of the Republic of China.
The 1911 Revolution abolished the Imperial examination, which had greatly restricted the number of women who could join the army and the military began to integrate female members. Women who joined the military still had to adhere to the traditional gender roles and duties of a soldier – the same duties that were expected of the men. However, the government offered reduced wages and other incentives to entice women to join the military.
At first, the idea of female soldiers was met with great resistance. A high ranking official by the name of Cai E even commented that “a woman, fighting alongside men, will cause ridicule and will never be able to endure as a soldier”. Cai E’s opinion is representative of the attitudes of the Chinese society during the time period. Despite the accusations that women could not fight, however, the military allowed the integration of female troops, who eventually became a sizable force – which grew to around 10,000 female soldiers in 1927.
The women played a significant role in military operations, with women serving as ‘war heroes’, distinguished commanders, anti-aircraft gunners, scouts, and as non-combatant personnel. Women led troops in combat against foreign invaders, such as the Imperial Japanese and Kuomintang armies. As many as eighty-five percent of female soldiers were killed in combat incidences during the War of Resistance against Japan.
Females were killed for joining the army because they were seen as rebels and used as a tool of intimidation by their opponents. It was believed that their opponents could immobilize the female soldiers by targeting them in order to demoralize their male counterparts. This led to numerous instances of females being killed or injured in order to have an effect on their male comrades.
Moreover, another reason for the deaths of these women was the discrimination that existed in the military. Female soldiers were not given the same respect and recognition as the male soldiers for the same level of service. This could be due to the fact that women were expected to be more subservient to men. Women were often given lower rankings, regardless of their accomplishments. This affected their morale, their sense of pride in themselves and their careers, and also led to a lack of respect from their male colleagues.
Today, the Chinese military is continuing to evolve, and it is a much more gender equalized setting. Women can still join the military but they now have equal opportunities and pay as their male counterparts. Of China’s 2 million-strong armed forces, over 24,000 of those servicemen and servicewomen are women. More women officers have risen to the ranks of generals and admirals and the number of women soldiers is still increasing.
Legal Protection for Female Soldiers
In modern times, it is common for governments to provide legal protection for female soldiers. This includes providing special legal restrictions on the prosecution of military personnel and providing benefits for women and their families, such as extended leave, additional housing, and education assistance. In cases where a female soldier is injured in the line of duty, there is often additional support pointed in their direction.
The Chinese government is currently working towards signing a new standard for military justice in which female soldiers would have special provisions within the system, different from their male counterparts. These provisions would increase the rights and protections of female soldiers, making it more difficult to subject them to any kind of mistreatment. This would also set a much-needed precedent in the field of gender-based military justice, which is still largely based on traditional gender roles.
Moreover, there have been increasing calls for equal representation of both sexes in government, with organizations such as the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) pushing for gender parity in the military. This will ensure that women are able to step up and contribute their knowledge and skills while also engaging in a secure environment.
Changes in Social Attitudes
Leaders in both politics and in the military have taken steps to promote social responsiveness by recognizing the need for gender equality in the military. This has been done through changing traditional views and deeply held beliefs about gender roles. In the military, the reorganization of gender roles has been encouraged by the adoption of modern structures and roles for both men and women.
In addition, Chinese society has also begun to realize the importance of having an equal distribution of roles, especially in the workplace. This shift in attitudes has been reflected in professional opportunities open to both men and women in the military. Women are now more likely to be represented at the highest levels, such as command positions, strategies and tactics, and in other fields traditionally considered male-dominated.
The goal of this new approach is to create an environment where everyone can contribute to the decision making process and to also support the professional prerequisites of both men and women. Such changes have helped to make the military a more open and diversified working environment. This has allowed for more efficient use of resources and personnel, as well as improved morale.
Although the traditional perception that women should not join the army still prevails, there has been a major shift in social attitudes towards women in the military. This has allowed for greater gender equality in the Chinese armed forces, which is reflected in the rising number of female troops as well as their equal rights and opportunities. Furthermore, organizations such as the UN and ICRC are advocating for equal representation of genders in the workforce, and the Chinese government is working towards achieving this goal.
Uses of Women in the Chinese Military
There is evidence to suggest that Chinese women have been increasingly employed in the Chinese armed forces for a variety of roles. Women are now seen as playing valuable roles in the military such as in communication, logistics, intelligence gathering and technology support. Women have also been used as frontline personnel in combat operations. In recent years, the Chinese military has used female soldiers as part of special operations forces and as snipers. Women have also been employed to operate heavy weapons such as helicoptors and tanks.
The trend for using women in the Chinese military is accelerating with the intention of creating a more professional and diverse force. Women can now aspire to become officers and hold senior positions in the military. This marks a significant shift in the traditional roles of women in the military and represents a more gender equal and inclusive environment.
Implications of Women in the Chinese Military
The implications of having more women in the military are significant in terms of both military strategy and mechanisms of power. On one hand, the presence of female soldiers can create a diversified and effective fighting force, as women can be employed in roles and capabilities that are distinctively different to those of men. On the other hand, it can also lead to the reinforcement of certain power structures, as women can become subject to different standards and expectations in the military. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the rules and regulations in place do not demonstrate any kind of bias, in order to create an effective and equitable environment.
Furthermore, having more women in the military could also have political implications. A number of countries have limited female access to military roles, in order to avoid perceived negative connotations for power structures or certain social and cultural norms. Therefore, the prevalence of female fighters in China could lead to a greater impact and influence on international opinion.
The rise of women in the Chinese military could also lead to technological advancements in the country’s defense capabilities. Women can be employed in the areas of defense technology and the development of tools, platforms and systems. This could lead to a greater investment in research, development and deployment of new technologies, ultimately resulting in higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness across the forces.
Other potential technological implications of a more gender equalized military could include the ability to track personnel in active duty as well as improved information gathering capabilities. This could also lead to a higher standard of organization and management, as well as better accountability for all personnel.
Overall, the presence of women in the Chinese military can lead to increased effectiveness and efficiency, as well as improved strategic agility in combat situations. Furthermore, it can also help create a more gender equal workplace, promoting greater respect and recognition for female personnel. This can have a positive influence both domestically and internationally, as well as on technological processes and advancements.