Change Comes to China’s “Granite Women”

Change taking place in China is not happening as fast as many Western critics want it to. To these critics, China should flip the feudal switch to democracy and the light should come on without effort.

However, in spite of Western pressure to speed things up, changes are taking place as planned by China’s government.

For example, foot binding was around for several centuries when the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) first attempted to end a practice that would continue for several more centuries.

Even the Nationalists failed to end foot binding in the 20th century. In fact, foot binding wouldn’t end until after 1949 when the Communist Party ruled China.

After a long period of nothing happening, which was due to Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, new approaches to education were encouraged after 1977.

In 1976 when Mao died, twenty percent of the population was literate. Today more than 90% can read with a goal to reach 99%.

In 1985, school reform was implemented making nine years of education mandatory for all children. Academic achievement became the new priority over the political consciousness of Mao’s era.

An example of how China’s education policies have brought about change may be seen among the “Granite Women”, who live near the coast in southeast China.

For centuries, these women carried the blocks of granite from the quarries where their husbands, brothers and fathers worked cutting the stone.

However, today, China’s economic reforms along with education are changing the old ways.

Younger women, who have now had enough education, know what they don’t want for their lives.

For centuries, others like the Qing Dynasty and the Nationalists failed to bring about change in China. Where these others failed, the Party appears to be succeeding.

Discover more about China’s Modern Women

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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