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The Dilemmas of Unmarried Motherhood in China: Challenges of Becoming a Mother

Student: Chuqiao Xie

Supervisor: Olga G. Isupova

Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Educational Programme: Population and Development (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2021

Unmarried/single motherhood is not encouraged in Chinese politics, which distinguishes the state from many other countries. This paper is devoted to demonstration of challenges of unmarried motherhood in China, including an analysis of existing laws and policies regarding reproduction and an analysis of two NGO surveys and in-depth interviews with ten unmarried women who wish for children and five experts from different fields. Financial situation is found to be the most significant prerequisite for having children. Due to the restrictions on the access to sperm banks and ART, unmarried women have to turn to overseas medical facilities to obtain related services to bear a child. Moreover, the large amount of social maintenance fee and high costs of childcare place a burden on unmarried women’s financial conditions. Other factors, such as public opinion on unmarried motherhood and registration of nonmarital births in the Huji system, also constitute hardships for women to achieve their reproductive wishes outside the framework of marriage. As the empowerment of Chinese women as the result of the growth in women’s labor participation and improvement of women’s education, unmarried women’s demands for reproductive rights have been raising in recent years. Policy recommendations are given at the end of the work to promote protection of unmarried women’s reproductive rights and nonmarital children’s basic civil rights, which possesses immense potential in boosting China’s fertility rate as well.

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