BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- The ratio of female deputies in China's new top legislature has reached a record high with 23.4 percent -- or 699 out of a total of 2,987 being women.
On the sidelines of the ongoing first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), Sun Xiaomei said the ratio is 2.07 percentage points higher than the previous congress and the highest since the first NPC in 1954.
Sun, a professor at China Women's University, is serving a second consecutive term in the NPC and is an observer of gender equality in the country's politics.
She said that the ratio of women in the NPC has maintained at about 21 percent after the reform and opening up policy in late 1970's.
The female deputies in the new NPC include diplomats, an astronaut, Olympic gold medalists, schoolmasters and migrant workers. Veteran female diplomat, Fu Ying, is the first female spokesperson for the NPC sessions.
In comparison, there are 100 female members out of 535 in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, about 18.7 percent. There are only 25 women, or 3.5 percent of a total 722 members, serving in the Japanese parliament.
"Women's participation in politics in China is guaranteed by the Constitution, as it stipulates that women enjoy equal rights with men in political, economic, cultural, social, family and all other parts of life.
In the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, in 1995, the Chinese government said gender equality was a basic state policy.
Besides the rising ratio of female deputies, two women were elected members of the Political Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
"It has benefitted from the attention given by the Party and the state," said Sun. "It also shows that women's participation in politics has been boosted in China."
In the 11th NPC, female deputies submitted 25 proposals concerning women's issues, including the amendment of the marriage law, prevention of domestic violence and the protection of women's basic rights in rural areas, said Sun.
In addition, the ratio of proposals concerning women's issues rose to 14.42 percent in 2012, from 4.6 percent in 2008.
However, Sun said Chinese women's voices in politics are not loud enough.
The 10th NPC stipulated in 2007 that the ratio of female deputies should not be lower than 22 percent. This has only now been achieved.
On Friday, International Women's Day, Sun submitted a criticism to the NPC session, expressing her dissatisfaction over the replies by related government departments on adjustments to the women's retirement policy.
Regulations mean female leaders above county-level should retire at the same age of their male counterparts, while some departments may ask women to retire before as an excuse of organization reform. Sun said this phenomenon hinders women's participation in politics.
Sun added she will further promote women's participation and gender equality in politics during her second term as NPC deputy.