Yang Lan at the Her Village International Forum 2016 earlier this month [Women of China/Zhang Ping]
The Her Village International Forum 2016 opened with a grand ceremony at Beijing's Sofitel Hotel earlier this month. The annual conference attracted numerous outstanding professionals from various fields at home and abroad, to express and exchange views on how to promote the rights of women and girls and improve gender equality.
Women of China (WOC) was pleased to invite Yang Lan (Yang), a well-known Chinese TV presenter and media personality, to talk about her opinions on family, women's positions, and how men can make more efforts to advance the development of gender equality.
WOC: Could you describe something about your thoughts on daily life?
Yang: People have different ways of expressing appreciation and gratitude to their families. As a wife, I have my own way to say thanks to my husband. The book I published called Still in Love represented my appreciation for him. Nothing in the world is doomed or taken for granted and we should cherish the love we have received.
WOC: Nowadays, an increasing number of women are joining the army of entrepreneurs amid the prevalent tide of innovation. What do you think of the value and significance of female entrepreneurship?
Yang: The access to entrepreneurship has largely been made relatively easy thanks to the development of the Internet and new technologies. In the past, starting a business needed wide social connections or access to a pyramid-like power structure, setting a high requirement for entry. However, highly developed advances in science and technology have greatly lowered the threshold, endowing many women with opportunities to start their own businesses.
Nevertheless, a recent survey shows it is more difficult for women than men to get investment. That's why over many years their firms remain small and hard to gain substantial development.
We need to address all these issues and help them do better.
WOC: The theme for this year's forum is "creating true partners." Why did you set it?
Yang: For one, I have had many chances to attend women-centered forums around the world and found that women like to talk about their own matters without men's participation. But women's issues are not just their own conundrums but ones concerning everyone. Therefore, a lack of men's participation is incomplete. That's why nearly half of our guests are men and there are more male audiences compared with last year. I expect this international forum will become a platform for both men and women to promote gender equality and social progress.
On the other hand, I have heard many men asking women "what else do you want exactly?" Do women want to place feminism above patriarchy? Here it should be noted that everyone is born to have rights instead of having them be imposed upon others. True partners can appreciate and respect each other. In today's society, it is difficult for women to shoulder responsibilities and bear pressure both at work and at home. Without our partners' support and understanding, it is tough for us to do well as a professional, a wife and a mother – unless we are some kind of superwoman.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development carried out a survey in 29 countries. The result shows that Chinese women work the longest hours both at work and at home every day, demonstrating they are indeed diligent on the one hand and they are bearing a huge pressure on the other. Therefore, their physical and mental health will be affected and the cause of seeking gender equality will be dampened if women fail to enjoy sustainable development.
WOC: UN Women launched a gender equality campaign in September 2014 to engage men of all ages in the effort to achieve gender equality and realise the rights of women and girls. In your view, what can males do to promote gender equality?
Yang: In the first place, we need to make them recognize that improving gender equality is something that affects them. Our strategic partners at the forum issued an initiative in which they promise to offer women the same promotion opportunities with men and give their male staff the same maternity leave with women under the guidance of relevant State policies. The series of measures will undoubtedly protect women's health, which, however, is likely to impose more pressure on working women.
WOC: In today's society, women are usually attached with labels such as "nüshen" (goddess or dream girl) and "nühanzi" (tough girl). How do you view this phenomenon?
Yang: In pop culture, it is alright to tag labels onto women as jokes. But seriously, I rejected being identified by such labels because I think every woman is unique and complete. We have our own love, contributions, hard times, anxiety and bitterness. We have our beloved careers and are willing to spare no effort to pursue our dreams. All these constitute a vigorous life. I hope every woman can be herself.
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