Helping Women Play Greater Roles in Promoting Social Development

ByZhang Jiamin January 19, 2024


Lin Lin is president of the Full-time Mothers Women's Federation, in Nanxiang, a town in Jiading District, in Shanghai. The federation is the first of its kind in Shanghai. When it was established, in 2019, the federation had 80 members. Now, it has nearly 500 members. Led by Lin, many of the members have participated in the community's management in recent years. As they have been shouldering their social responsibilities, they have been striving to realize their value.

Helping Full-Time Mothers Realize Value

More than 10 years ago, Lin and Ding Changhua, her husband, ran a home-furnishing company in Shanghai. However, a car accident changed their peaceful lives. Lin and her son, Ding Hanming, were both injured during the accident, and they were both hospitalized for more than a year. While Ding Changhua took care of Ding Hanming in the hospital, several women, who lived in Lin's neighborhood, took turns looking after Lin. She was deeply touched by the women's heartwarming gesture. After she was released from the hospital, Lin became a full-time mother, so she could take better care of her family. She pondered how she could repay society for the care and assistance she had received. 

In 2014, Lin began promoting children's reading, and offering, both online and offline, guidance to children and their parents, to help them improve their reading skills. Two years later, Lin raised money to establish a picture-book reading room (in Jiading), which is open to public for free. She often organizes storytelling parties in the reading room. 

"I spent almost a year reading picture books with my children. The activity had a soothing, calming effect on me. In 2016, I took my daughter (Ding Zixuan) to participate in an activity (in Shanghai) to encourage parents to read with their children. Through the activity, many parents better understood the benefits of parent-child reading," recalls Lin. 

During the past eight years, Lin has organized more than 100 parent-child reading activities, during which experts (in parent-child reading) have offered guidance to children and their parents, to help them improve their reading skills. The parents have also shared their ideas on how to better educate their children. Lin has also posted online information (about various children's books), which has attracted tens of thousands of online readers. Through the activities, she has met many full-time mothers.

In 2018, Lin established an online chat group, in which she and more than 80 mothers have discussed topics related to reading, family education and parent-child relations. The women often organize various activities, to promote harmony among residents of the community. As she has strived to realize her value, Lin has been pleased to offer a helping hand to those in need. 

During the following year, Lin and several other women established the Full-time Mothers Women's Federation (in Nanxiang), under the guidance of local women's federations. Lin hoped, through the platform, full-time mothers could have a greater sense of belonging to their communities, especially as they were shouldering increasing social responsibilities. 

Within a short time, Lin and her team established a volunteers' group, which organized full-time mothers to provide various services, including sorting garbage and strengthening work related to the prevention and control of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In 2019, Nanxiang began recruiting women volunteers, who have been providing companionship and academic tutoring to disadvantaged children. During the past several years, Lin has mobilized dozens of full-time mothers to participate in the campaign. 

As president of Jiading Yuelihui Family Public Welfare Service Center, Lin during the past few years has led the center's workers in conducting various activities to promote parent-child reading, and reading among both adolescents and women. 

"In addition to full-time mothers, many women (in Jiading), including SOHO (small office, home office) workers, in recent years have participated in our various public-welfare activities, including those intended to help residents improve their family education," says Lin. "Many full-time mothers, who merely cared for their own families in the past, have played active roles in building their communities into better places." 

[Photo by Zhang Jiamin]

Promoting Good Family Traditions, Establishing Healthy Social Practices

For more than a decade, Lin has tried her best to help disadvantaged children. During the past three years, Lin has been taking a girl, who lives with her grandparents (who are in delicate health), to school and picking the girl up on her way home every day. In 2012, Lin and some of her neighbors launched a charitable project to provide financial aid to both impoverished children and rural teachers in Yongning (a town in Lijiang, a city in southwest China's Yunnan Province). 

Influenced by Lin, all of her family members have devoted themselves to promoting public-welfare undertakings. For example, during the past 13 years, both Ding Changhua and Ding Hanming have been providing support services to Lin and other volunteers, as they have conducted charity auctions, under the above-mentioned project, to provide financial aid to both impoverished children and rural teachers (in Yongning). "I'm pleased I have sowed the seeds of love in my children's hearts, and the seeds have taken root and sprouted," says Lin. She hopes her children will grow into talents, who contribute to the development of the country and society. She also notes, compared with their verbal instructions, parents' teaching by personal example tend to exert a greater influence on their children. In 2022, Lin's family was selected a National Most Beautiful Family. 

Lin was honored to have been elected a delegate to the 13th National Women's Congress of China (held in October 2023). "I will learn about the needs of more women, and pass on President Xi Jinping's discourses on the importance of family, family education and virtues, and the spirit of the congress to members of our federation ... If residents of our community can manage our families well, Chinese society will become more harmonious," she says. 

Inspired by Xi's discourses, Lin has realized full-time mothers' value and potential. During the past few years, she has led the federation's members in conducting various activities to help residents improve their family education, and to encourage parents to read with their children. Lin's team has also shared information about healthy lives with women, and helped them increase their legal knowledge and improve their ability to start their own businesses. 

Having benefited from such activities, some full-time mothers have established their own enterprises, while others have participated in their communities' management. Some women have qualified as family education mentors and/or psychological counselors. 

Almighty Mothers

In addition to full-time mothers, many women, including SOHO workers and women who have participated in the federation's activities, have become members of the Full-time Mothers Women's Federation (in Nanxiang). "Since I established the federation, I have remained committed to my original aspiration — providing a platform for mothers to participate in community governance and social services, and to play greater roles in society, so the women can realize their value," Lin says. 

She has been impressed by Shen Yang, the federation's vice-president, who has applied what she has learned in helping women (in her community) improve their family education, and in helping residents mediate parent-child disputes. "Using our advantages in our work (such as being thoughtful and having good communication and coordination skills), we, full-time mothers, try our best to help residents resolve family disputes and/or improve their family education," says Lin. Through the experiences of Shen and other outstanding women, Lin says she has realized the importance of lifelong learning.

Lin believes as Chinese society has become increasingly inclusive, women have been able to choose their lifestyles of their own free will, which means they may either work or become full-time mothers. Given their contributions to building their communities into better places, many full-time mothers have earned respect from others. That has showcased the fact Chinese women have diverse choices in the modern society. 

Through Lin's experience, one may conclude, by participating in community governance and public affairs, full-time mothers may contribute to the promotion of both social harmony, stability and prosperity. 

Issues related to providing better and various services to women, and to helping women explore their potential, have remained Lin's top concerns. "Throughout their lives, both working mothers and full-time mothers should strive to realize their value ... Full-time mothers may use their professional skills to promote development of their communities and Chinese society," says Lin. 

She is aware the federation has provided a platform for full-time mothers to display their talents and professional skills. She believes, through the platform, Chinese society will better understand the women's needs and wishes. Through the various activities conducted by her federation, Lin has realized families play a crucial, foundational role in promoting people's well-being, and in achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. She hopes she will help more families better understand the importance of family, family education and virtues. Lin believes healthy social practices will be established as every family promotes its good family traditions. She vows to encourage more women to play their unique roles in both promoting social development and in advocating family virtues and good family traditions. She also hopes more women will do their bit to promote community construction and good social trends.


Photos Supplied by Interviewee

(Women of China English Monthly December 2023 issue)


Please understand that,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by