Yu Dan: Women's Role in Family Life Irreplaceable

November 21, 2013
By Zhang WeiEditor: Zhu Yanhong

Yu Dan: Women's Role in Family Life Irreplaceable
Yu Dan [Women of China/ Zhang Ping]
Professor Yu Dan from Beijing Normal University was a delegate to the 11th National Women's Congress held in Beijing in October this year, during which she talked about her ideas on women's development and women's role in family life.

"In Chinese, the character '安' which means 'security' is made up of two parts. The top part is the same as the top part of the Chinese character for 'family', while the bottom part is the Chinese character for 'woman'," Yu said. She pointed out that for generations, Chinese people have equated home life with the roles played by wives and mothers. In this modern day and age, Yu believes that connecting the happiness of their families with the well-being of the country is the only way that women can integrate their own dreams with the Party and country's development pursuits.

Security Realized Through the Roles Women Play in Family Life

"We often say that women need to be more involved in social issues to realize their self-value, but the point here is how they do it. If their families are well taken care of and harmonious, then there is no problem with them going out to work. But if the housework hasn't been done, the house is dirty, everything is in disorder and the woman of the house is just busy working outside, I don't think that is the kind of social progress in women's development that we are pursuing. That is not satisfying," Yu says.

Yu added, "China is now in the process of a dramatic social transition, changing from an agricultural civilization into a modern civilization, during which there have been big changes in social structure. Mothers play an irreplaceable role in ensuring family stability and family values. This is the fundamental responsibility of women."

In Yu's opinion, the best social education cannot replace the importance of family education and a good social environment.

At the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women's Congress, Wang Qishan, member of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, made a special speech during which he talked about the three key roles that women play as daughters, wives and mothers.

"This is a symbol of the progress of women's development in China. It is a balanced evaluation of the multiple goals of women in their family role, their self-consciousness and social values," said Yu.

"Women play a key role in the family. Women should have a bigger concept of their roles and they need to take care of their families before focusing their energies elsewhere," Yu said.
Spiritual Growth for Contemporary Chinese Women

Yu believes that modern women need to take care of their inner selves in order to grow and develop. Women should pay attention to their spiritual growth and realize that it is a lifelong process that will entail different needs at different ages.
"Women are all afraid of becoming old. But what is being old? You shouldn't tell whether a woman is old or not by the wrinkles on her face, but by whether or not her eyes are bright and her walk brisk. As long as a woman keeps interested in the world and always strives to better herself, she will always remain young and energetic," said Yu.

Yu said that during China's social transition, Chinese women have experienced bigger changes than Chinese men. Chinese women's inner self-affirmation standard is totally different from that of men. "In Chinese traditional culture, if you say a woman has taken good care of her husband and her children, the woman will think you are praising her. However, now if you say the same words to a woman, she may feel unbalanced and unhappy since she may feel that she hasn't realized her self-value in society. If you say a woman is a capable person with great career achievements, she may also feel unhappy since she may think that means she lacks feminine charms. If you say she is beautiful, she may think you are calling her shallow. So these days, a lot of people are confused about their self-perception," said Yu.

Yu believes that this is in part because Chinese women are being provided with an unprecedented number of opportunities and that they must learn to achieve balance and find their own happiness.

Yu says that there are various ways to develop a rich spiritual life. Reading books, enjoying music, traveling, studying art and other similar activities can all enrich women's lives.
The Art of Being a Woman
As a professor at the Beijing Normal University, Yu is always proud to talk about her students. "My female students all do very well academically," she says.

"Women should cultivate their self-consciousness while they are still young," said Yu. She believes that there is a sort of art to becoming a woman, including learning how to be elegant, at ease with one's self and self-confident.
"The spiritual growth of a woman can make a woman contribute more to the world based on the consciousness of self-independence." said Yu. Yu added that the women's federations in China have done a lot of work in this aspect, and they have made adjustments on this in light of China's social progress and the change in women's social status.

(Source: gmw.cn/ Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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