China: Meirong Wu

We can win peace and equality only through action.

— Meirong Wu

Wu Meirong (48) is a defender of women’s rights. She takes every opportunity to conduct trainings and spread the message of law, while at the same time setting up various kinds of institutions to tackle the problems. Her work has helped to change the usual perception of domestic violence as a private, family affair in indictments and verdicts in court, and has also helped courts to take into consideration cases of women who practice violence to counter the violence they are exposed to.

Wu Meirong was born in a remote village in Hebei Province. When she was young, her studies were repeatedly interrupted because her family was poor and because of discrimination towards women. She finished high school with support from her teachers. She also faced discrimination when she entered the job market. Thus, when she joined the Women’s Federation in 1985, she was determined to try her best to defend women’s rights. With the cooperation of her colleagues, in four years’ time, Wu Meirong successfully lobbied the people’s representatives of Hebei Province to draft the “Regulations on Preventing and Deterring Domestic Violence in Hebei Province”, which was the first regulation against domestic violence in China, and the best implemented so far at a provincial level. Based on international practice, the women’s federation cooperated with different units in the establishment of 185 women’s legal support centers, 1988 township women’s legal claim stations, eight domestic violence injury evaluation centers, and 21 shelter stations. Wu Meirong used her writing skills to help produce material on domestic violence, to publish articles on the subject and to present detailed reports of typical cases. She initiated a signature campaign entitled “starting from me, resist domestic violence” which had a strong impact. Among the 85,000 signatories, 69,000 were men. Learning from some typical cases, she managed to persuade the court to take a new perspective in indictments and verdicts on women who practice violence to counter the violence inflicted on them. Wu has made many personal sacrifices in her work. Once when she was involved in a property case, the head of a civil court took revenge on her and caused her to lose over 100,000 yuan. But Wu Meirong managed to get through the difficult times. She knew that she needed to face many obstacles on the road to peace.

Women’s Federation of Hebei Province