China: Guixin Yu

To contribute to issues that are to the benefit of the community and society at large, I think this is worthwhile even if it is at the expense of personal interests.

— Guixin Yu

After she was transferred to the Women’s Federation of Qianxi County, Yu Guixin was able to build up a much deeper understanding on women’s issues. She and her fellow workers in the Women’s Federation attend courses on related legislation, and organize legal and gender training for women in the villages. She also set up a domestic violence complaints center, and provides forensic medical services, with the overall goal of promoting the protection of women’s rights.

Yu Guixin was born to a peasant family in China’s Hebei Province in 1962. At the age of 20 she was admitted to the Yutian Normal School and following her graduation became a teacher. In 1988 she was transferred to the Qianxi Women’s Federation. It was here that she started to work for the betterment of the lot of women. An innovative person, she is currently chairperson of the Qianxi Women’s Federation. In rural areas, people – women’s federation officials included – often lack legal knowledge and have a low level of awareness of gender equity. Guixin took the lead, using of her spare time to study law and become a qualified legal practitioner. Many of her fellow workers were inspired and followed suit. Meanwhile, she worked on popularizing legal education at a county level, and made innovative attempts to promote policies and rights protection. In Qianxi, Guixin worked on establishing a violence-free family community and setting up a Family Violence Complaints Center. A clinic that provides forensic medical services has also been opened. Since many women are ignorant of their legitimate legal rights and interests when they get divorced, Guixin offers “pre-divorce” courses to women in the county. A network is formed by the provincial women’s federation, the county legal service center, and the village right-protection team to promote better cooperation among the various levels of concerned organizations. This network ensures that related problems are solved in an innovative manner, Guixin has initiated the procedure of direct election in the election of women representatives to local, regional and national legislative bodies, enhancing women’s participation in local democracy and governance. This has helped promote grassroots women’s political participation, and the protection of women’s rights in rural China.

Women’s Federation of Qianxi County, Hebei Province