Shen Jilan is confirmed dead at the age of 90.
Shen was best known as a Chinese politician.
Shen Jilan
Shen Jilan.jpg
Shen Jilan
Delegate to the National People's Congress
In office
1954 – 28 June 2020 (2020-06-28)
ChairmanLiu ShaoqiZhu DeSong Qingling (acting)→Ye JianyingPeng ZhenWan LiQiao ShiLi PengWu BangguoZhang DejiangLi Zhanshu
Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the Changzhi People's Congress
In office
Director of the Shanxi Women's Federation
In office
Personal details
Born(1929-12-00)December , 1929
Pingshun County, Shanxi, China
Died28 June 2020(2020-06-28) (aged 90)
Political partyCommunist Party of China
ParentsSong Jinshui (father)
Wu Quanxiang (mother)
Shen Hengtai (stepfather)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Shen Jilan (Chinese: 申纪兰; December 1929 – 28 June 2020) was a Chinese politician affiliated with the Communist Party of China and former farmer. She had held numerous governance positions and was elected to the 1st National People's Congress in 1954, and had been re-elected for all the subsequent sittings of the National People's Congress over the next 65 years, the only person to have done so. This has led to some commentators calling her the world's longest serving congresswoman.
Shen was born in Pingshun County, Shanxi in December 1929. Her father Song Jinshui (宋进水) died early. In 1934 her mother Wu Quanxiang (武全香) remarried to Shen Hengtai (申恒泰), a doctor in Pingshun County. Shen Jilan grew up in Pingshun County. In 1943 she responded to a call by Mao Zedong and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China to establish party organisation in Xigou village alongside Li Shunda. Together with other farming families she established a local agricultural labour mutual aid group and defence force and came to prominence within the party through the 1950s based on the success of this local cooperative.
Shen Jilan in 1953
In 1952 she was encouraged by higher powers in the Communist party to widen the cooperative to cover 26 individual farms - the first production cooperative to be established in the People's Republic of China. On the establishment of this wider cooperative Jilan was elected deputy president. She established a working women's group to carry out agricultural work.
In 1954, she proposed the addition of the equal pay for equal work clause in the first constitution of China to reduce gender pay gap, and her proposal was adopted. She commented in a 2018 interview: "Men got 10 work points a day, but we only got a maximum of five points no matter how much work we did." To highlight the unfairness in this approach she organised a manuring contest between the male and female workers - with the female workers winning the contest.
Four female representatives from Shanxi attended the first National People's Congress in 1954 (Shen far right)
In 1953 Shen joined the Communist Party of China and gained widespread media attention due to the success of the farming cooperative. She was elected to the 1st National People's Congress in 1954 - one of four female representatives from Shanxi province. Of the 1,226 deputies to attend the first congress only 147 were women. She was the only person to have been elected to every session of the National People's Congress having been returned to the 13th National People's Congress in 2018.
In 1973 she became director of the Shanxi Women's Federation, a position she held for ten years, before returning to her home village of Xigou in 1983. During this period China was establishing a market economy and Jilan established herself as an entrepreneur in the local economy. She helped establish a ferroalloy plant, walnut oil factory and cannery in the local area. She was also an integral part of a reforestation plan in Xigou.
In 2008, she was chosen as an Olympic torch carrier as part of the buildup to the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was reported by local media that she donated 10,000 Chinese yuan to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake relief. In 2013 her calls for widespread internet regulation were met with controversy by younger people in China. In 2019 she was awarded the highest order of honour in China, the Medal of the Republic.
She died on 28 June 2020 at the age of 90.
Personal life
Shen was married to Zhang Hailiang (张海亮), a veteran of the Korean War and later became director of Changzhi Municipal Urban Construction Bureau. The couple had one son and two daughters, in order of birth: Zhang Lizhen (张李珍; director in a military hospital in Handan), Zhang Jiangping (张江平; Party chief of Changzhi Municipal Food Bureau), and Zhang Jiang'e (张江娥; staff member of Changzhi Municipal Engineering Division).
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