The rise of Chinese women’s social status
By Zong Jinyi

Around the world, while many use International Women's Day to call for change, others celebrate acts of courage by ordinary women. From breaking molds to making history, thousands of ladies are honored every March 8 for their contributions to society. 

China is no exception.   

Lei Haihuan has worked in the Chinese education system for more than 30 years. Since 1995, she has served as a principal and a Party General Branch Secretary of China's first preschool education group – Beijing Tomorrow Kindergarten Group. She has pushed China's preschool education into a new era.

Lei at work. /CGTN Photo

Lei at work. /CGTN Photo

Lei said, “At the beginning of the reform, the biggest obstacle was teachers' states of mind. Also, their professionalism could not keep up with the society's requirements.” 

Lei's core value of preschool education is happiness. She believes children should grow up in a happy environment and learn via games and activities.

“We used a lot of training methods to enhance their abilities. We influenced them spiritually and helped them set goals for their work, letting them accept new ideas of education,” said Lei. 

Lei's contribution won her the 2018 Red-flag Bearer award on March 8 last year. Only women who have made remarkable achievements in building a socialist material civilization and spiritual civilization are given this distinction. Lei says in her own experiences, she has witnessed the rising of women's social status in China.

“When I was young, in my parents' generation, I saw many women fighting for their rights and liberation, such as marriage and autonomy. In 40 years of reform and opening up, women have earned higher education degrees, and taken part in all areas of work. Gradually, women's achievements and contributions helped women gain higher social status in China.”

A work by a student from Beijing Tomorrow Kindergarten Group. /CGTN ‍

A work by a student from Beijing Tomorrow Kindergarten Group. /CGTN ‍

At this year's reception of the March 8th International Women's Day in Beijing, the All-China Women's Federation gathered ladies from all over the world to celebrate. It was also an opportunity for them to communicate and exchange their individual beliefs. Statistics from ACWF show that in 2017, women already accounted for almost 44 percent of total employment in China, exceeding what was next year's goal of 40. In Lei's world – the proportion of girls receiving preschool education increased from nearly 57 percent in 2010 to almost 80 percent in 2017.

“In my opinion, there is no gender inequality in Chinese education. In rural areas, however, I do think it's a problem in employment. But with the progress of society, I think this phenomenon will disappear as it has in urban areas,” said Lei. 

With the increase in women's social statuses, many say the ultimate goal of gender equality is foreseeable in the future.