Web forum highlights women's equal role in society

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 7, 2018
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"Frailty, thy name is woman"—this widely quoted line from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is increasingly met with disapproval in the modern days as its discriminatory message becomes severely outdated.

About a week ahead of International Women's Day on Mar. 8, a live webcast entitled "She Leads, She Empowers" — hosted by China Plus, China Radio International and the U.N. Women Beijing Office — clearly demonstrated that women will continue to strive for equal status with men in the workplace, despite the long-existing challenges resulting from women's different roles in society.

Julie Broussard, the Country Program Manager for the U.N. Women China Office, stated that women are often challenged in their initial status as single and childless. Yet after marrying, they must then balance family and work responsibilities.

"For all humans — not just women but also men — most of us want to have families. But how shall we do that with the right person at the right time, and at the same time to build your career? I think that's the challenge everybody faces," she said.

In the debate about the different roles women hold as they climb the social ladder, some agreed that women need to map out a precise schedule for "golden time" when they should focus on career advancement or on children and family life. Others protested that women can work as long and hard as they wish and still have a baby at any age until menopause.

Liu Nan, a businesswoman and founder of China's first imported maternity and infant flash sales platform, said, "For me, there are two periods of ‘golden time' for women. One is after graduation, when you enjoy your single time for two to three years."

"The second golden period for me was when I had my baby," Liu continued. "When she was one-and-a-half, then she could be kind of independent with the baby-sitter, so I had time to do my own things and develop my own skills."

"Although I agree that we can work throughout our lifetime, technically we need golden time to catch up," she explained.

But some panelists argued that the "golden age" for women is a false hypothesis that only goes under the cloak of inequality and unfairness.

Author, blogger, media figure and publisher Hung Huang said, "I think the entire structure of the corporate world is not a structure favorable for women to have children."

"Women don't need a golden time to have children," continued Hung, commenting that her own view may seem a bit contradictory. "Any time after reaching maturity you can have children. Provided that you're a working woman, there are certain facilities and amenities to help you accomplish," she explained.

Her view was echoed by Michael McComb, vice president of S.A.P. China, who believes women can make outstanding achievements regardless of their ticking "biological clocks" or the aging process.

"I would say that you could argue every period is the ‘golden period.' It's just that the contexts are different; every different context may present different opportunities for people in different ways," he explained.

Virginia Tan, co-founder and president of Lean in China, a woman's platform with 100,000 members across the country, called the "golden age" a sign of decline.

"After each golden age of the civilization, there is a decline," Tan explained. "The risk is that women run up against so-called ‘lean back' early in their careers, because the mother has to slow down as her attention is needed at home."

"It is really a mindset. Entrepreneurial women with children can be stronger, better and more mature," Tan said.

More to the point, added Tan, people ignore that men have families too.

Broussard agreed with Tan's point, saying, "Men suffer those insane working hours as much as women do. These corporate men also need that balance, spend more time with their family, want some freedom on the weekend, and don't want to be working until midnight," she added.

The 90-minute workshop also touched on the subjects of women's leadership, female competence in science and engineering and the courage needed for women to become role models of working mothers.

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