HeForShe Campaign Kicks Off for Gender Equality in China

April 13, 2015
Editor: Eileen Cheng
HeForShe Campaign Kicks Off for Gender Equality in China

Male representatives from various fields join the campaign for the promotion of women’s development. [Women of China/Yao Yao]

Nearly 100 Tsinghua University students signed a pledge to advocate gender equality at an event held at the university on April 12 to launch UN-backed solidarity campaign HeForShe in China.

"While the pledge is symbolic, we are asking for specific action that contributes to social change. We are asking those who sign up to define what they will do to make a difference," said Roberta Clarke, regional director of UN Women Asia Pacific, at the event.

She pointed to distinctly Chinese issues of gender equality including a preference for sons which has led to a skewed sex ration.

The campaign is aimed mainly at males, "engaging men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their full potential". Backed by actress Emma Watson, the organizers of HeForShe claim to have received gender equality commitments from hundreds of thousands of men around the world including Heads of State, CEOs and global luminaries since launching in September.

"Girls and women are still disadvantaged in China," particularly in the job market, said Long Yifan, a 23-year-old graduate student at Tsinghua.

Employers discriminate against women, assuming that they will marry, have children, and either drop out of the workforce or spend a lot of time caring for their children, Clarke said.

But this assumption exists because, in China, typically, women carry out almost three times as much unpaid housework as men, taking care of the home and looking after ageing parents as well as children, she added.

"Many of my female classmates have performed outstandingly in their studies, and if given the same chance, they could do much better than men," Long said.

"When I become a husband, I will never let my wife give up her own career for housework. When I become a father, I will respect my daughter's personal choice," said 23-year-old economics major Yuan Bo.

Many non-students also attended the launch event.

According to one of them, Shi Zhongqin, manager of Proya Cosmetics Corporation, his company has committed to building toilets with a 3-to-1 ratio of women's to men's cubicles, to wipe out long lines at women's restrooms.

Chinese film star Li Guangfu appealed for women-only compartments on the subway in order to protect women from sexual harassment.

HeForShe Campaign Kicks Off for Gender Equality in China

Zhang Xiaolong, "Model of the Year" and the main actor in popular TV series Empresses in the Palace, attend the ceremony. [Women of China/Yao Yao]

HeForShe Campaign Kicks Off for Gender Equality in China

Ma Leijun (middle) and other celebrities show their commitment to the event. [Women of China/Yao Yao]

HeForShe Campaign Kicks Off for Gender Equality in China

Guests at the launch event [Women of China/Yao Yao]

HeForShe Campaign Kicks Off for Gender Equality in China

Organizers of the HerForShe movement [Women of China/Yao Yao]

(Source: Xinhua)

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