Last year, during the Covid outbreak in China, women – female healthcare workers and local officials – were particularly visible on the front line as the crisis unfolded.
The pandemic shone a spotlight on women such as Wang Fang, a local communist party secretary responsible for 19,000 residents of a neighbourhood in Deyang, Sichuan province. With a tightly scheduled 14-hour day, she said the responsibilities she shouldered as a female party member at the local level outweighed the fears and worries of motherhood.
A year ago, China’s highest-ranking female official, Sun Chunlan, vice premier and the only woman in the 25-member politburo, steered the central government task force in charge of Wuhan’s Covid response.
Although the prominence of women in this national crisis represents an anomaly, it is far from being a mystery.