China: Qingrong Ma

The only way to solve the problem of women’s subordination is to change people’s mindset and to plant the new idea of gender equality into every mind.

— Qingrong Ma

Ma Qingrong initiated the Xingfu Village Women’s Association of the Longyu Township. During the last 20 years she has worked at a grassroots level in the countryside, helping countless poor villagers. The Women’s Association she organized has voluntarily done a lot to improve the status of women in the village and the township and inspired them with confidence and hope. Under her influence, many women have made changes in their lives, their families, and in the society.

Ma Qingrong was born in 1943 in the Gaocao Township, Xichang City, Sichuan Province. She is a member of the Muslim community and believes in Islam. She was married in the Xingfu Village, Yulong township, when she was 18. Since then she has never left the place. Ma has had a difficult life; she is sympathetic and is concerned about the poor. She has spent the past 20 years helping people; whatever the matter she tries to help. In Xingfu Village women were maltreated, sometimes beaten or abused by their husbands. Ma would speak out and stand up for the women, telling them they were not subordinate to men.She offered support to women who were abused and helpless. The Xingfu Village Women’s Association, which she organized together with a few of these women, aimed to mediate in family disputes, to prevent further violent acts against women, and to provide help for the victims of violence. In one incident, a villager who used to belittle his wife, and even beat and abuse his daughter frequently, again used violence to settle a trivial family dispute. Ma came to stop him and, with the help of other members of the Women's Association, educated him about the principles of family harmony. Being reprimanded by so many people for the first time, the man unwillingly became silent. But the incident had a profound demonstration effect on those women who endured humiliation without complaint. Some men started to change their attitude. More women joined the Association, strengthening its efforts for women’s rights. The sound of quarrelling gradually died out, and the village became more peaceful and harmonious. The efforts made by Ma Qingrong have been understood and supported by the villagers. Under her influence, all the villagers, especially women, changed themselves, their families, and the society.

Xingfu Village Women’s Association