Jinan slammed for asking employed women to take care of kids at home as schools close amid virus outbreak

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/18 22:27:36

Medical team members attend a ceremony, before leaving for Hubei Province, in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, Feb. 16, 2020. The fifth batch of 108 medical workers from Yunnan left for Hubei Province on Sunday to aid the novel coronavirus control efforts there. (Xinhua/Hu Chao)

Jinan, capital of East China's Shandong Province, has been at the center of controversy after calling for employed women to mainly take care of kids at home during school closures amid the COVID-19 outbreak, drawing criticism over gender prejudice. 

The city's leading group for epidemic control work published a document on February 8, urging that in a family where the kids are young and parents both work, women should mainly apply to their companies for stay-at-home childcare during the school term delay.

The document sparked controversy over sexism, with many netizens saying it underscores a stereotypical female role. 

"Women are working hard nowadays to prove that they can be more than a stay-at-home mom, but it seems that this still has not changed the patriarchy's prescribed gender norms in society," one netizen commented on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform. 

This argument was backed up by some netizens who highlighted the number of female medics in the battle against the epidemic - a total of 448 female medical workers in a recent team were sent from Shandong Province to the frontline in Hubei Province, which accounts for 64 percent of the total amount.

Other people said the Jinan government is going too far over the matter. One Weibo user said that "it should be a decision made by the parents themselves about how to split their roles in the family, not a third party." 

Among the criticizing voices, a number of people were for the idea and expressed understanding of the suggestion. 

"In general, mothers are more involved in kids' daily care and tutoring, so it totally makes sense that women, not men, are encouraged to stay and look after the family," wrote one supporter.    

Schools are required to postpone the start date of the spring semester across China during the epidemic. In Shandong, schools will not start until the end of February, according to an announcement the government made on February 8. 

Online tuition has been offered by many schools and educational institutes as an alternative to help students study at home, which requires extra help from adults to set up the digital equipment. 

In response to the childcare problem in families with two working parents, many provincial and municipal governments introduced policies to ensure the right of employees to take care of their kids at home during the epidemic. 

In Beijing, meanwhile, a government document issued on Thursday suggested that one of the two working parents should be allowed to stay at home with children while still getting paid, without naming a specific gender.  

Global Times 

Posted in: SOCIETY

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