Women’s Day 2022
Women’s Day in China: In celebration of International Women’s Day we compiled some answers to three questions we thought were relevant to international women’s day.
- How do you usually celebrate women’s day?
- What can we do to promote gender equality in our daily lives
- If you were the opposite gender, what would be the biggest difference in your life?
Well, we are a team delivering experiential education, and we try to practice what we preach. We turned to the experiential education cycle in writing this article. Here’s a simple graphic for those of you who don’t know what that is.
The following are just short snippets of our reflections, thoughts, and commitments on women’s day based on what we’ve learned.
Flowers. Why does everybody celebrate with flowers? Do all women love flowers? Well, we know the flower industry must definitely love women’s day.
After seeing all these responses, we spent some time thinking about why we give women flowers on special occasions such as women’s day, or at all, and we’d like to share the summary of our research. It’s only in the relatively ‘modern’ era that gifting flowers has become ‘feminine’ – you can thank the emotional repressiveness of the Victorian era for that (you’re welcome to google our sources).
Actually, using flowers for ornamentation or gifting goes back to 5000 years ago… In ancient cultures, Chinese, Greek, Egyptian – flowers were associated with ritual, religion, and well, beauty! Do women inherently like flowers, or is that a societal construct? Because guys like flowers too, in certain social constructs. Think about graduation ceremonies.
We also noticed that our oldest colleague seemed to have, what we thought, was the best answer: It’s our women’s day holiday, we should do what makes us happy.
While editing the video we realized that, surprisingly, a lot of us don’t feel like gender inequality exists… Full disclosure, the person writing this article is a woman – hello!
And what we realized is that what we need to take the time to reflect on, as a first step, is that privilege exists. If privilege exists, how can discrimination, not?
The act of recognizing that others are privileged is radical, because it, by default, exposes us to the negative emotions associated with understanding that things aren’t fair; that maybe, we are being discriminated against.
An oversimplified anecdote could be:
You buy something worth 100 USD, but then realizing that someone got the exact same thing for 80 USD. You felt fine and happy when you didn’t know that it was being sold for 80 USD but now you’re thinking about, ‘how come?‘
How can we work within ourselves to feel as fine and as happy as before we found out? To the young women who believe that gender discrimination doesn’t exist. Yes, you might be the exception, but how likely is it that you, and all of your entire group of friends that don’t believe gender inequality exists, are?
Because the statistics don’t lie:
- Less than ¼ of the seats in China’s National People’s Congress are held by women
- On average, like everywhere else in the world, women are paid less than men. Indeed, female dominated industries are valued less than those which are male dominated.
- The culture of using ‘pink collar workers’ is alive and well (you can look it up yourself)
- Do we even need to talk about how sexist Confucius was and how Confucian culture permeates Asian society?
Furthermore, as one colleague mentions in the video, his parents expect women to get married earlier (before 30). As changes come about, generationally, it’s easy to forget that we don’t live in a silo. The ‘older’ generation greatly influences the reality of current modern society. 40 to 79 year olds make up 34.9% of the world’s population and its general opinions.
The cure? Another colleague sums it up. “Think more about each other.” Just putting ourselves in the others’ shoes. When we take the time to think deeply and methodically about another person’s situation, noticing the highlights and shadows of this person’s experiences as they walk through life becomes an automatic byproduct.
In one of our weekly sustainability meetings yesterday the subject of gender equality came up. We realized that we weren’t actively thinking about consciously looking for vendors that were led by women or women owned. Despite over half of our team being women, our founder being a woman, and our director being a woman. What a missed opportunity, and this opportunity was missed because we just didn’t think about it deeply and methodically.
WildChina Education commitments. Let’s do something about it.
- Make Conscious Choices. We will actively think about choosing women owned/led businesses, especially when it comes to renting land or space. Landowners in China are disproportionately composed of men.
- Avoid Unconscious Bias. We will ask for resumes and cover letters in the hiring process not to include names, genders, or photos (a common practice in China).
- Call It Out. We work with students from over 50 of China’s premier educational institutions and these students participate in our programs led by our teachers. If we see it, if we hear it, we won’t ignore it. We will address it and encourage a conversation about it.
- Finally, we will Talk About It. Last week, when our team was reviewing the footage we’d gathered for this video – it sparked a conversation internally about discriminatory experiences we’d had at previous workplaces. We can strive to create a safe space within our team to unpack sexism and gender discrimination.
We leave you with a quote from one of our colleagues in the video who says:
For women, we just need to say what we want when we are working, don’t [worry about] being too polite, and don’t be afraid to ask more, I think that’s how we can start
A woman at a workplace, talking about what I want, not worrying about what others might think, asking that we all start together.