Chinese women banned from studying mining degrees

Activists in China are challenging long-standing rules which ban women from studying mining degrees because “mining work is unsuitable for women”.

The China Mining and Technology University in China's eastern Jiangsu province has a men only entrance policy.

BBC reports China’s education ministry bans women from studying various subjects ranging from tunnel engineering to navigation due to concerns around women’s safety.

"China's labour law suggests mining work is unsuitable for women, so we ask women to refrain from applying to our major," mining professor Shu Jisen said.

"Some jobs are really inappropriate for women.

"If they force their way into these jobs, they will waste energy that can be better used elsewhere."

The university says women are not strong enough to carry heavy mining equipment and claim that in an emergency they would not be able to escape a mine quickly enough.

“It's blatant gender discrimination," argued one student activist, Xiao Meili.

"No-one had stood up to these universities before, and told them these policies were wrong. Why didn't anyone want to change anything? It really made me very angry."

"If someone can endure tough working conditions, that person should be allowed to do it," another student said.

"Universities should lift the limitations and allow people to make their own choices, instead of just barring them."

The small group of protestors shaved their heads in protest against the restrictions last year.

While lawyers have also joined the fight to have the bans on women entering mining majors lifted.

China has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which includes ensuring women's equal access to, and equal opportunities in, education and employment.

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