09 Mar Chinese women demand their own gender equality movement
The coronavirus outbreak brought more than an economic crisis. In China, it is becoming a turning point for a society’s change of thinking on issues such as women’s rights. According to the Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum 2020, China ranked 106th in a list of 153 countries on the gender equality index. In January, the government of Jinan, East China’s Province, asked women to remain with children at home during the epidemic. Chinese netizens criticized the request and defined it as sexist. Why should women, instead of men, stay at home with children, even if they also have jobs?
On February 6th, the movement “Stand By Her” to donate period supplies to medical workers in Hubei, the epicentre of the virus, enraged Chinese netizens. The Weibo user Liang Yu Stacey posted “do medical workers in Hubei have enough period supplies?”. She quickly received hundreds of responses from nurses desperate for hygiene products. Women represent 60% of Hubei’s medical force. Later, netizens reported that the period supplies donation was rejected by the male hospital director. He replied it was not an urgent subject. Such declaration caused even more anger among Chinese millennials. They saw it as a neglect of basic female needs.
After that, on February 9th, Liang Yu Stacey created the “Stand By Her” initiative. In less than 15 days, the Chinese who joined the movement had delivered frontline over 350.000 sanitary towels to medical workers. These events brought an important message at large: Chinese women demand their own gender equality movement. Along with the “Stand By Her” movement, Weibo users continued to criticize the male-centric media coverage about the virus-fighting efforts. Men were always portrayed as brave medical workers while women were martyrs who left work to take care of their families.
The rise of the chinese feminism
In a time where luxury fashion brands are increasingly using feminist messages in order to speak to millennials, Chinese gender equality movement could represent a major challenge for the industry. That is due the fact that the Chinese feminism is different from that one in the Western one. The Western feminism is mainly focused on fighting sexual violence and the “rape culture” (#metoo). While the Chinese one wants to stop women’s martyrization, objectification and the stereotypes of the exemplary woman. They want to be seen as independet individuals. No longer as beings made to sacrifice themselves for the others sake. They are also demanding respect to that the female body and its nature.
For brands that want to support the Chinese gender equality movement, it is about time to look at this ancient culture devoid of Western concepts. What works in the West probably will not work in the East. It will be fundamental to study hard the market as well as the culture to avoid mistakes such as Dolce & Gabbana did two years ago.