'Leftover women' in China are encouraged to take love leave from work so they can find partners

A group of friends attend Fashion Week in Shanghai, China
A group of friends attend Fashion Week in Shanghai, China

With the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday coming up on 5 February, single women in China are dreading their impending family reunions. You can probably already guess why... 

Yes, because being single tends to be the one aspect of every women's life that is assumed to warrant the most elaborate of explanations. And when we remain single and unwed well into our 20s and 30s, society not-so-subtly suggests that our sell-by date is nigh. 

We may think our African aunties are a handful with their "ukuphi umkhwenyana" inquisitions, but in China, this pressure rivals that of altitudes below sea level. Chinese women (and others in various parts of Asia) who are unmarried in their late 20s and beyond are given the derogatory label "Sheng nu" or "leftover women" - a term that can't help but spark the analogy in one's mind that at a buffet of appealing, delectable women, no one found you good enough to scoop up and take back to their table. 

It also brings to mind that other misogynistic term that also likens us to food - "sloppy seconds".

Tiresome much?

READ MORE: Do women become less desirable the older and more accomplished they get?

It is.

So much so that The Washington Post reports that it's not rare for "leftover women" who have prioritised their careers over marriage, to fabricate stories about (non-existent) boyfriends, while others ask their bosses to increase their workload in order to avoid returning home for the holiday. 

The dread of being badgered by family over your single status apparently gets to so bad for Chinese working women that hospitals are reporting "a spike in young people seeking treatment for anxiety."

31-year-old Emily Liu, who spoke to The Washington Post, says "[I] was so afraid last year that I didn’t go home. I don’t want to go home this year either, but there’s no way to avoid going back."

"My parents say, ‘Your classmates have children, you don’t even have a boyfriend'. This is the only topic when I am back home, and they even mobilise all the relatives. The pressure is too great," she adds. 

See, the Chinese government kind of got themselves into this conundrum where they at first, implemented a one-child policy and then later relaxed it in a bid to encourage bigger families. Adding to their woes is the fact that the number of couples getting hitched in China "has fallen for five years straight." 

As it stands, there are currently approximately 200 million single people in China. 

Their solution to this "problem"? Love leave!

READ MORE: The World Health Organisation might classify being single as having a disability

What is love leave?

According The Washington Post, two companies that run a tourist attraction in Shanghai called Song Dynasty Town, have granted their single women employees over 30, an extra eight days leave so that may date over the New Year holiday. This is also apparently peak season for blind dating. 

“Some of our staff are quite busy with work, so we think it’s a good idea to give them some extra time for dating,” said the companies’ human resources manager, Huang Lei.

And you know what's even better than getting some time off to focus on your love life? Double your annual bonus at the end of 2019.

In Hangzhou, a middle school is offering their unmarried teacher two half-days of “love leave” each month. We imagine that means you can probably go on two Tinder lunch dates rather than waiting for the weekend. Hello, little black book.

In addition to "family leave", this school grants "happiness leave" too. We're all clearly working in the wrong country.

These single women can use their love leave to "simply take the leave and use it for vacation since the company doesn’t require the details of the dating,” an office worker explained.

Mental health leave, period leave and now love leave- the global workforce is taking small strides towards making our days of employment a pleasant experience because ultimately, that's what boosts morale and productivity.

So with that said, how would you spend your love leave if South African companies implemented it?

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