Despite Recent Propaganda, Women's Equality Day is Only a Dream in China

By Chai Ling

 

Today, President Obama proclaimed Women's Equality Day.  It's the 91st anniversary of the creation of the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote). In his beautifully crafted proclamation were strong words about women pursuing their dreams.


"On the 91st anniversary of this landmark in civil rights, we continue to uphold the foundational American principles that we are all equal, and that each of us deserves a chance to pursue our dreams."


As a woman who came to America from the regime of China, this day has special significance for me, as in China I could not pursue my dreams.   Here I can vote and experience freedom, and most important to me, I can protect my 3 daughters and my own body without worry that my government will find us.  In China, the One-Child Policy takes away any rights to my own body and the lives of my children.


While remembering the brave women of America who made this day possible, it is good to turn our eyes to China, where one in every five women on earth lives.  This century has brought some leaps forward for women in China, including the end of foot-binding, a 920 year tradition.  But this is not enough.


US leaders have spent the week debating and clarifying the Administration's stance on women's rights in China, and Vice President Joe Biden's office released a statement that the One-Child Policy and its aspects of forced abortion and sterilization are repugnant.  The world knows that in China, women's cry is not to vote, but to simply be allowed freedom from invasive surgical procedures and abortion or confiscation of their children.  If voting is a fundamental human right, the right to not be sterilized by your government is an indescribably basic human right that is not recognized in China.


As if these kidnappings, forced abortions and sterilizations were not bad enough, the misinformation around China's current Family Planning Committee actions is truly heartbreaking and dishonoring to the women most affected.  This month, dozens of Western media outlets picked up two articles about advancement in equality for women in China as if all problems were over.  On Yahoo News, "China's One-Child Policy a Surprising Boon for Chinese Girls" earned thousands of comments reminding the author that the suicide rate in China for women is 5 times the world average, the number one cause of death for China's young women.  The other, published in the Telegraph, UK, "China's Women Reach forTheir Half of the Sky" points out the growing social importance of women.  Both articles offered some balanced reporting and remembering briefly the deaths of millions of girls as a result of the One-Child Policy, but both pointed out that women are really gaining greater status in China.


To our team at All Girls Allowed, a humanitarian organization dedicated to restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China, to discuss equality in China in any form for women is really a ridiculous concept, as it only applies to women who are alive.  The 37 million girls "missing" from gendercide do not benefit.  In addition, rights to one's own body are arguably more fundamental than the right to vote. And this right - to protect your own body and your children's bodies - is still denied women in China.


One more little-known fact about China.  China is 107th in female enrollment in school behind Iran and Mauritania, and its low female life expectancy puts it behind Liberia and Gabon (#150). For more statistics, please visit: http://www.allgirlsallowed.org/womens-rights-china-statistics .


Today, on Women's Equality Day, all American women should celebrate our rights and take a moment to remember the lives lost in China to such a horrific policy.

 

Chai Ling is Former Commander-in-Chief of the Tiananmen Square Student Democracy Movement, Founder of All Girls Allowed, Wife, Mother and Voter




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