Photo credit: SupChina illustration
The life of a single mother can be challenging anywhere in the world, but the hurdles are especially high for single Chinese mothers. Obstacles include:
- Denial of access to assisted reproductive technology such as IVF and egg freezing.
- Extraordinary difficulty in obtaining a residency permit, also known as a hùkǒu (户口), for their children.
- Inability to claim maternity benefits because current law stipulates that applicants need to present family-planning certificates — but unmarried mothers sometimes cannot obtain these papers.
One mother in Shanghai, Zhāng Méng 张萌, is now challenging the law on maternity benefits, and has filed a lawsuit against the Shanghai Social Insurance Management Center. In the first legal case of its kind in China, Zhang is seeking around 50,000 yuan ($7,000) as salary compensation for five months of maternity leave.
The upshot: After Zhang lost three previous lawsuits over two years, her case has now reached the Shanghai Supreme People’s Court.