China: Dianmin Wang

We should prove that we are able, and live not only for ourselves but also for others…. I am a woman. And I am as good as my male counterparts.”

— Dianmin Wang

Wang Dianmin has been actively engaged in promoting the rights of her fellow villagers. She mobilizes villagers to learn government policies, laws and regulations, so that they are better equipped to protect their rights. She has also set up cultural performance groups and a society for the elderly to enrich people’s cultural life and to raise their organizing abilities.

Wang Dianmin was born to a poor peasant family 48 years ago in Anhui Province. When her husband died in 1993, leaving behind an elderly mother and three small children, she became the sole breadwinner of the family. In 1995, Dianmin started to serve as the chairperson of the village women’s group. Being witness to the corruption of government officials at the grassroots level, she started to organize villagers to learn government policies to safeguard their lawful rights. In 1999, she was forced to resign because she led a group of villagers to appeal to the central government for intervention in incidents of rights abuse. Agricultural tax reform in Anhui Province took place a few years ago, and relations between farmers and the government have eased after this. The Society for Rights Protection has now shifted its focus to village reconstruction through culture and music. Dianmin worked to help set up the Village Cultural Performance Group and the Society for the Elderly. Being a widow and a woman alone, Dianmin faced considerable criticism and innuendo in her work but she said, “We should prove that we are able, and live not only for ourselves but also for others. People will understand who we are when the Society for the Elderly turns out to be a success. I am a woman, and I am as good as my male counterparts.” This was proved true in the summer of 2004 when The Society for the Elderly elected Dianmin as chair in an open election. By end of 2004, Dianmin had set up a farmers’ cooperative, with the aim of improving the livelihood of villagers.

Society for the Elderly in Wanglao Village