China’s Educated Women Work to Bring about Change from Within

March 12, 2012

“You must matter,” she tells the girls that are her students. “You must be independent.”

The teacher wants her students to know the alternatives so they have choices. She says, “You don’t change overnight. It takes time. The ideas have to sink in.” This also applies to a country where less than a century ago women were the property of men and their feet were broken as children and bound to restrict growth.

The students are schoolteachers from China’s rural areas. They have come to Beijing for workplace training and to learn more about themselves.

Moreover, this is happening in Communist China and most Western critics have no idea this is going on.

The rural teachers in this program study the Chinese Constitution to learn about their rights and responsibilities.

After all, men and women are equal under the law in China, but there is a long way to go to change the old habits and ways of thinking to achieve all that equality offers.

As in the US, women in China are not paid the same as men for the same jobs.

One of the schoolteachers from rural China said, “You come to believe that you are not as good as men. But I hope when I return to my town that I will have the strength to stand up for myself.”

In October 2011, Chen Zhili, vice-chairperson of the National Congress Standing Committee and president of the All-China Women’s Federation, joined representatives from eleven other Asian and African countries and regions at a conference in Seoul, South Korea.  In her speech at the conference, she “emphasized the four concepts of education as a fundamental right; of education as a means to achieving gender equality and empowering women; of the health and social benefits to be gained from investing in women and girls’ education; and of the responsibility all state governments and international society bear in promoting gender equality.” Source: Women of China

In addition, “Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that women in China ages 18 to 64 have had an average of 8.8 years of education compared to 9.1 years for men. The gender gap in average years of education has decreased from 1.5 years in 2000 to 0.3 years in 2010.” Source WIA Report – Tracking the Progress of Women in Academia

worth watching if you have the time – a PBS 2007 documentary running almost one hour


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This revised and edited post first appeared November 8, 2010