Liu Bohong: Pioneer Researcher in Women's Studies

  • March 27, 2014
  • Editor: Leo Yin
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Liu Bohong: Pioneer Researcher in Women's Studies
Liu Bohong []

Liu Bohong was Deputy Director of the All-China Women's Federation's Women's Studies Institute of China and has played an active role in circulating feminist ideas in the Women's Federation. Since the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing, she has worked with the Chinese government to teach leaders about the relevance of gender to laws and policies. She has participated in formulating national programs that implement the 1995 UN Platform for Action. 

I was deeply impressed by the idea "Be healthy and work for the motherland for 50 years," advocated by Tsinghua University professor Ma Yuehan (1882-1966), when I was a middle school student. The idea inspired me to keep healthy while I was working. Now, despite retiring a couple of years ago, I still want to use my knowledge to serve people and bring them benefits. I will cherish every minute in my remaining life by reading, traveling and making friends. 

When I was pursuing my studies at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee in the 1980s, I came across Li Zhongxiu, then chief editor of Women of China, who suggested I conduct surveys involving women's issues in the reform of political structure. 

In the beginning, I was not so familiar with the materials I collected, but soon I found it very interesting and meaningful to research those issues, especially at a moment when China was experiencing profound social and economic changes. Additionally, the UN's Commission on the Status of Women decided to hold the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, which provided even more opportunities for women's studies research.

Afterwards I transferred from the army to the All-China Women's Federation's Women's Studies Institute of China in 1993 and wanted to see whether I could do women's studies. I ending up researching for 20 years and enjoyed it very much. 

I am working to promote gender equality and women's liberation. Women's liberation is also my dream because it is a mark of human civilization and has close connections to the emancipation of the human race. Women are a basic group of human beings and closely overlap with many other social identities such as sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, socioeconomic class and religion. Moreover, a great number of women are marginalized in modern society, so if we can solve women-related issues, many other relevant issues can be addressed at the same time. 

Since I started focusing on women-related issues, I have seen that the gender equality and international women's movements have indeed brought about great changes to global agendas, which have brought much positive energy and generated profound influence on improving the environment, alleviating poverty, social and economic sustainable development, and good governance. Meanwhile, the development of women's studies has also improved Chinese legislation and boosted institutional innovation, which propelled rapid economic and social development, promoted social and familial harmony and even changed many people's destinies.

In my 20 years in women's studies, I was most impressed by the Fourth World Conference on Women and I still clearly remember the opening ceremony of the non-governmental women forum, which gathered more than 30,000 female representatives from all over the world. The burning torch, sonorous songs and our collective commitments and resolutions to promote peace, equality and development have stayed in my heart ever since then.

I made detailed records of that conference and put forward three suggestions: "viewing the world from women's perspectives," "letting the world know women's ideas" and "changing the world through women's actions." 

"Viewing the world from women's perspectives" means that we should follow the principle of gender equality, and admit and respect women's contributions to the development of human beings as well as explore how to provide a fair social environment for women to display their talents alongside their male counterparts. At the Beijing World Conference on Women, the United Nations adopted the concept of "gender mainstreaming" and regarded it as a global strategy to advance gender equality. I am so proud China was amongst the first countries pledging "gender mainstreaming" and in the following 20 years, more and more countries have accumulated lots of experience in carrying out "gender mainstreaming," which has vigorously promoted social sustainable development. 

"Letting the world know women's ideas" means that women should voice their demands and protest all kinds of unfair treatments in order to let policy-makers of the UN and national governments know what difficulties and obstacles they are faced with. We came up with many inspiring ideas such as "Give half the power to women and half the housework to men,” "Decision-making will not be perfect without women's participation," "Formal equality and real equality, both are essential" and "Give men opportunities to care for women."

"Changing the world through women's actions" means women should participate in the decision-making of and have a bigger say in world affairs. Over the past two decades, women attended a string of international conferences, including the World Conference on Human Rights held in 1993 and the World Summit for Social Development held in 1995, where they enabled decision-makers to pay more attention to women-related issues when formulating policies, and wrote women's wishes into important international documents. In addition, women's associations should establish friendly relationships with local government so that they can better urge governments to implement democratic policies. 

My dream is for my future research to help more women enjoy their deserved rights and lead happy lives. 

(Women of China)

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