The Hands that Tell a Thousand Words
On the production trip of my documentary "Rise of the Phoenix" last year, I vividly recall holding one of my characters Pu Ruixia’s mother’s hands in my interview — so coarsened and wrinkled with callouses of hard-labor. A pair of hands two years younger than mine but looks and feels twenty years older. She has never questioned why she has to slave away this way and only knows and accepts this as her lot. The notion of life outside her village has never occurred to her less alone being curious about mine.
The women in China are an amazing bunch. They have no concept of gender awareness as the west knows it. Surely life is not fair, but they are too busy managing the family and the day-to-day survival than to worry about breaking the imaginary glass ceiling. There is another character Nanny Zhu Xiaoli who was in an abusive relationship. Even after her hard-won divorce, she asked very little in return because she doesn’t know she has the right to ask for compensation for her investment of youth and labor in the marriage. Then there are those mothers who profess girls are as good as boys but are still secretly convinced that the two are not of equal worth.
When is the Chinese society going to support true equality in legislature, education, rights and opportunities for those “holding up half the sky”? The notion that girls are “spilled water” is still a collective prejudice in many countries. It's time for women of the world to stop subscribing to the belief that they liabilities to their families instead of change-makers and assets to their daughters and sisters?
Maybe the progress of a country should be measured by the education and empowerment of its women, not just by its GDP.