An Oral History of Wang Xingjuan

China Development Brief no. 55 (Fall 2012)

中文 English

About the interviewee: Wang Xingjuan, born in 1930, began her career in reporting and editing. In 1988, she retired and began to devote her attention and energy towards women’s empowerment. She set-up the Women’s Research Institute, an NGO aimed at studying social problems faced by women, under the China Academy of Management Science. In 1992, under Wang’s leadership, the organization opened China’s first women’s hotline, and has since opened various other hotlines with focuses on elderly, legal counselling, domestic violence and other issues. In 1995, they organized the NGO conference of the World Forum on Women’s Issues. In 1996, the Institute left the China Academy of Management Science and registered with Industry and Commerce as the Beijing Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center, henceforth focusing both on research and practical activities. They launched a social work model focused on intervening in local communities to solve domestic issues in Tianjin. The new model is now actively used across China’s provinces and cities, and to date 82-year-old Wang remains active in women’s empowerment.

Interview Date and Location: Office of the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center in Beijing, July 30th 2012.

The road to women’s studies

I have always been working on cultural issues. In 1949, before even graduating from university, I went to Nanjing to join in the liberation of the city. After the liberation of the city by the Third Field Army, there was a shortage of political cadres in Nanjing, so I left the University of Nanking and joined the Nanjing Xinhua Daily as a junior reporter and started my career as a journalist. Two years later, I transferred to the Beijing-based China Youth Daily. After the cultural revolution, I joined the Beijing Publishing House, where I compiled books regarding current political theory.

My interest in women’s rights was triggered by a study of teenage girls. In 1984, Guangdong ‘s Publishing House invited me and my old comrade-in-arms, Lou Jingbo, to write a book named “necessary reading for teenage girls”. It was well received by parents and people were even queueing up in some of Guangzhou’s Xinhua bookstores to buy the book. I realized there were no other books tackling this topic, so in 1986 I, along with 2 friends, co-published a volume named “Modern Women” with the Sichuan People’s Publishing House. This 20-book volume covered all aspects of life: marriage, family, work, studies, dressing, etc. and it proved to be a success, winning several book awards. We even had to reprint various editions. In 1985 the All-China Women’s Federation wanted to start a magazine named “Marriage and Family”, and I was invited to serve as a deputy editor to bring in editing expertise. The chief editor was a secretary from the Secretariat Department of the China Women’s Federation in charge of the Marriage and Family Research Society. Her role was mostly nominal, so most of the work was done by me and another jurist. We had to publish every week, so we took turns being in charge of the final product on a fortnightly basis. This experience proved transformative in shifting my focus from not just young women but also marriage and family.

Back in the eighties, women issues were intricately linked to social development. After the disbandment of the Gang of Four, the state began to reform, to open up, and the reform of the economic and political system became both an opportunity and a challenge to women. National transition from the planned economy to a market economy meant that we had to follow the rules of the market. During the Mao era, five people ate portions meant for three; and five people did the work that three could do. We were not wealthy, but neither were we unemployed or hungry. After the implementation of a market economy, there was a focus on efficiency. Two people had to do the work of three in order to earn money. Therefore, factories had to let go of the surplus of employees and in 1988 the State Council passed a pilot system in 13 provinces to optimize labor – that was when we first heard of the word ‘laid-off workers”. Since women were often in disadvantaged positions, 60 to 70 percent of laid-off workers were women. That generation grew up in the post-49 China, and received an education that inculcated them with the belief that active workforce participation was an important facet of women’s liberation. It was hard to accept that they were now newly unemployed. Their loss of economic status also affected their social status and their position in the family. While working for the “Marriage and Family” magazine, I was asked many questions: why did women find it harder to find jobs despite a growing economy? Why did social development come with the sacrifice of a generation of women? They kept asking me: where is our way out? I couldn’t answer these questions. For that entire year, all the issues of the All China Women’s Federation official publication “Women of China” discussed the future of women after the events of 1988, which was meant to tackle exactly these questions.

In 1988, the world of women’s rights also faced another social problem: that of participation in politics. At that time, the government put into practice a reform of the electoral system, from party committees and government to local committees of the CPPCC and local People’s Congresses, switching from the former single-candidate elections to multi-candidate ones. Before, there were five people for five positions and all you had to do was trace a circle. Now, for five positions they give you seven names among which you have to choose five. With this reform, a lot of female candidates were eliminated and in many provinces and cities, there was not even one female to be found in any of the four governing bodies (Party, government, People’s Congress, CPPCC). Sinceit was the custom to praise each candidate’s accomplishment before the election took place, men were always seen as the ones with the richest experiences, therefore, everybody chose male candidates. Women were destined to cultural, educational and healthcare jobs, which anyone could undertake.

That year, “Women of China” also published a series of debates regarding women’s participation in politics. The core of the discussion was to know if the decline of women’s participation was due to women‘s lack of skills, or because they were discriminated against. The two major problems were ostentatious in 1988, but not a single organization tackled them. Within the All-China Women’s Federation, only the Chinese Research Society of Marriage and Family existed. I thought that since I had already retired from my job, had time on my hands and was interested in researching women’s issues, I could establish a non-governmental women’s research organization to study contemporary issues, and help these women seek a brighter future.

Therefore, in the February of 1988, I convened a meeting of ten to twenty women working on women’s issues such as Xie Lihua, Tan Shen and Liu Bohong at my house, to explore the possibility of building a non-governmental women’s research organization. It was extremely well received. We brainstormed for an entire day, and for lunch I treated everyone to noodles. The meeting gave birth to China’s first non-governmental women organization, and we affectionately remember this meeting as “the noodle conference”.

From research organization to hotline

In October 1988, the Women’s Research Institute was established. It was affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Management Science (hereafter referred to as the “Academy”), which was also a grassroots organization. Thanks to Chen Yun’s networks, and under the leadership of the State Scientific and Technological Commission, the Academy managed to be affiliated to the State Council under the State Commission for Economic Reform. At that time, we held activities as a secondary unit of the Academy. We had an independent bank account, and were able to register as a non-profit public service organization with the help of the Dongcheng district Scientific Commission.

Since we were a grassroots organization, we did not receive government funding and had to raise funds independently. Of the 20,000 yuan in start-ups costs needed for setting up the Women’s Research Institute, half were of my contribution, and a few friends helped with the other half. We applied to the Soros Foundation for funds and they granted us 5000 yuan to carry out a survey on female employment rates. These were all the resources we had in the early stages of our enterprise.

When the State Council passed a pilot system in 13 provinces to optimize labor, we selected cities such as Shantou, Hangzhou, Shenyang and others to carry out our interviews with laid-off women in order to understand better their current situation and feelings. Through this study, we realized that if women did not improve their working skills and establish a mentality of financial independence, they would not remain competitive and their employment situation would get worse. At that time, many initiatives such as “laid-off steam buns” and laundry cooperatives started to appear, exemplifying the fact that women had left the industrial production system to be sent back to housework and small street vending.

Despite understanding the problem and having a solution, we still needed to get more attention and publicity. Women’s issues were relatively ignored by the public at the time, it was not like today’s “free lunch”1 which managed to instantly get government attention and quickly resolve the issue. Then, even the Women’s Federation did not care about the issue of laid-offs women workers. Once, a Ford Foundation project officer asked me, “I’m being frank here, but do you think your research can save women? Do you think this kind of research is useful?” I was taken aback and realized I had not think about that. I began to calculate how many journals we had sent the results of our research to, how many women would be able to read it, and among those who read it, how many could be influenced by it, and I realized that there were not enough.

Therefore I began wondering how to combine research and public service. I realized that we could not be too academic in our writing and studies, and leave them on a piece of paper. We had to find a channel by which we could allow our research to serve women, let them understand that society could not regress to the period before the reforms and opening up, that there would never be a communal system again, that society would never be as protective of women as it was before. You have to keep up with the times; you have to stand up for yourself; to find your new place in society.

We were a grassroots organization, we didn’t have money and we couldn’t help employ women or provide them with the finances to maintain themselves. We could, however, nudge and urge them to be more self-reliant and realistic. So how did we achieve this? I thought we could create a hotline, which only required a room, a telephone, and a dedicated group of volunteers to pick up the phone. We could achieve significant outputs with minimal inputs.

I had an american friend whose Chinese name was Jiang Lin. She said that she knew a small foundation in the United States, The Global Fund for Women, and asked if I wanted to apply for a grant. I agreed and told her we wanted to open a women hotline. She helped me write the application. In 1992, our project was accepted and we received a $10,000 grant, half of which we could use immediately. At that time, the Women’s Research Institute did not have a bank account allowing it to receive foreign currencies, so I opened a personal account to receive the grant money. The Foundation was in-turn mainly sponsored by the Ford Foundation, and each grant was very small, from 10,000 USD to 20,000 USD, and were specially designed to help start-ups, such as those without foreign bank accounts.

After receiving the money, I went to Beijing Normal University and Peking University’s departments of psychology to convince their party branch to help spread the word that we were recruiting volunteers. We recruited more than fifty volunteers for our first batch, and on September 2nd, 1992, we managed to open China’s first women’s hotline. At that time, some people said that Chinese women did not have the habit of using telephones, and there was no way our hotline could gain traction. But against their predictions, the hotline was immediately a great success, the phone went ringing all day long, even overseas Chinese phoned in. Perhaps because of the newsworthiness of its novelty, many media outlets published stories about it. The Xinhua News Agency mentioned it in a new segment and it went on the 7 o’clock news on TV, which helped us gain overnight publicity. In the past it was different from now, today there are hundreds of hotlines, the Maple Women Hotline is no longer a scarce resource. Because we were the earliest psychological counselling hotline, we soon needed to open more lines, so we opened one line after the other, until we had sixty-seven lines.

In terms of volunteer training, we required volunteers to have psychological knowledge, technical skills, and knowledge of the concept of gender. Then it was not even known as “gender”, that term was only brought up before the convening of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women. Then we called it “women consciousness”, or “female consciousness”, and emphasized that the hotline’s main aim was to urge women to be independent and self-conscious. In the second of two women hotline training handbooks, we discussed gender issues, and all are supervisors had attended trainings on the concept of gender. By 2001, all our training material for volunteers had a special section on the concept of gender.

The World Conference on Women’s Crisis

The Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) was held in China in 1995. The FWCW played an important role in promoting the development of the women’s movement in China. Typically at UN meetings, one part is a formal conference hosted by the UN which governments from around the world participate in; the other part is various non-governmental forums held by civil society organizations from around the world. The UN grants observer status to a few well-known NGOs; these NGOs can apply to speak at the conference of governments to express the views of the NGOs. Our Women’s Research Institute was granted this honor – the first batch of China’s non-governmental women’s organizations to be recognized by the UN Economic and Social Council and allowed to send two observers to attend the governments’ meeting.

This was a distinguished gathering of the women of the world; over a hundred countries sent delegations to attend the meeting. The Chinese leaders at the time, Jiang Zemin and Chen Muhua, personally attended the conference. The governments’ meeting was held in Beijing proper; the non-governmental forum was put in Huairou County [on the outskirts of Beijing].

China’s NGO Forum, led by the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF), formed China’s NGO forum organizing committee. A total of more than 50 Chinese non-governmental forums participated in the Huairou activities. Most of the non-governmental forum organizers at the FWCW meeting were not real NGOs; they all had a government agency behind them. For instance, behind the National Association of Women Legal Workers was the Ministry of Justice; behind the Association of Women Entrepreneurs was the Ministry of Commerce. Only the forum organized by the Institute had no ministries or commissions behind it.

The NGO forum organized by the Institute was called “Women’s Groups and Social Assistance.” We faced a series of setbacks securing approval for this forum because we proposed to assist vulnerable groups and one topic was victims of domestic violence. At that time, some in the leadership of the ACWF did not recognize the existence of domestic violence. They claimed that being beaten was an exception, that the status of women in China was very high, so there was no domestic violence. So after I reported this topic, one of the leaders, without naming me, criticized me during a meeting, saying: “Some people are trying to stir up trouble, claiming that we have domestic violence.” I sat there feeling so uncomfortable that every sentence seemed to be directed at me.

So how was the topic approved in the end? During preparations for the FWCW, the government issued the first “Outline for the Development of Chinese Women,” which referred to preventing domestic violence. The outline was legalistic, the government acknowledged the problem; how could the ACWF deny it? The ACWF gave permission for the Women’s Research Institute’s forum to include a discussion on domestic violence, and made the Association of Women Judges organize a forum specifically focusing on domestic violence. Another reason was that in 1990, the ACWF and the National Bureau of Statistics conducted a nationwide survey on the status of women which found that 30% of women suffered from domestic violence. The data was there and could not be ignored.

The FWCW’s NGO Forum in Huairou lasted two weeks. Our forum was only two-and-a-half hours long, everyone spoke very concisely. They only gave us a small room but there were so many people, even the corridor outside was full with people standing. It was quite impressive.

It doesn’t rain much in Beijing in late August and early September, but that year it rained constantly. It was cold and wet. A lot of people attending our forum got sick. But worse than that, there was a storm of controversy.

The FWCW, saw an important influx of foreign journalists in China. The state issued an internal notice forbidding casual meetings with reporters and banning foreigners from going to organizations to interview people without approval. Because the Academy of Management was a non-governmental organization which had cut ties with the Economic Reform Commission after 1990, the notice never reached me. We received a number of visitors, many through the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) who we worked with. A UNDP leader called to say that a group of reporters wanted to do interviews, so I told them to come. A lot of reporters came and after interviewing me they did not show me the articles before they were published abroad. I don’t know whether or not they included negative reports on China. I didn’t say a single word against society or the country. Whether or not the Western media misrepresented my position, creating confusion, I still do not know. But it attracted the attention of the Ministry of State Security.

Particularly important was the fact that the U.S. women’s delegation was headed by then first lady Hillary Clinton. After her arrival in China, she asked to visit the Institute to see the women’s hotline. This ignited a storm. It just so happened to coincide with the crisis over the Taiwan Straits; China-US relations were extremely tense. When she visited China that time, not only did national leaders not meet her, but even the President of the All China Women’s Federation, Chen Muhua, did not see her; newspapers did not report on her at all. In this political environment, Hillary proposing to visit the women’s hotline alarmed senior ranks.

The White House called the Institute, said they wanted to come to assess the security environment and Hillary Clinton wanted to visit the women’s hotline. This phone call alarmed me. I said, I’m afraid this has to go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The other side hung up. I immediately reported the news to the organizing committee of the NGO Forum.

But the catastrophe had already begun. The deputy director of the Institute was summoned to Zhongnanhai twice and asked what kind of organization the Institute was. What kind of person is Wang Xingjuan? Why does Hillary want to see her? The Academy of Management, which the Institute was under, was also interrogated. The calls from the Ministry of State Security were incessant, and even the Academy of Management was criticized.

The NGO Forum Organizing Committee of the ACWF had decided that some organizations could receive foreign NGOs as guests, and it was best if they provided a meal. The Institute was given permission to host and the Ford Foundation funded part of the reception costs. We planned the reception and booked a meal at the Capital Hotel. But the Beijing Municipal Security Bureau told us we weren’t permitted to go ahead with the reception. I said that this had been decided by the NGO forum organizing committee. They replied that it didn’t matter who had decided. There was nothing I could do. I agreed to cancel the event. They also said I could not meet Hillary Clinton or attend the reception at the U.S. Embassy. In fact, during the FWCW, it wasn’t just Hillary – other countries’ women leaders and first ladies also wanted to visit the Institute. But the Security Bureau said I couldn’t meet any of them and had to stay in Huairou and not return to Beijing.

The next day as soon as I arrived in Huairou, the cell phone rang. The phone didn’t even belong to the Institute, it was lent to us by a volunteer. The phone call was from one of the staff at the Institute who told me to hurry back because the Security Bureau wanted to see me. I had no choice but to rush back. This time, the Security Bureau gave us permission to let foreigners visit the women’s hotline. But if, during a visit, someone shouted any slogans, we would have to bear all the political responsibility. I agreed. I trusted that our foreign friends would not do such thing.

On September 5th, more than 40 Chinese and foreign representatives visited our hotline in the Di’anmen Junior High School. We introduced the women’s hotline, answered questions, and then dined together. The event went smoothly from start to finish, nothing happened.

But this was also a violation of discipline. After the FWCW, I came under heavy pressure. The Di’anmen Junior High School asked us to move, but there was nowhere where we could afford the rent. The Academy of Management Science broke off our affiliation. This meant we couldn’t use their name anymore. The Dongcheng District Science and Technology Commission didn’t want to be responsible for us, so we lost our legal identity as a non-profit. For the hotline to survive, for the organization to have the protection of the law, I had to go to the outer suburbs and register as a commercial organization. It was the end of November 1996, the flowers had withered and the trees were bare. Only the red leaves remained. I thought, we want to be like autumn leaves; the colder it gets, the darker the color. So the Women’s Research Institute was renamed the Beijing Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center. I was the first person from an NGO to register as a commercial organization.

At the time, a lot of people told me that even if you devote your entire life to revolution, you might still fail in the end. It’s not worth dying for a political issue. You should just close the hotline, go home and write your book. I had considered that before, but when I sat in front of the telephone, listening to women eager to pour their heart out, I could not make that decision. I felt deeply that although it was only a small women’s hotline, women needed it for their grief, to give them support. I decided that as long as the government did not stop me, I would keep it going. They would need a reason to shut us down but I never said or did anything against the country, and never revealed any state secrets. After retirement, I never went into the party journal room – people of my level are allowed to see certain party publications. Since they couldn’t find a reason to stop me, I was going to keep on doing it. I’ve been educated by the Party for years. There are limits when you meet foreign reporters. I know what you can and cannot talk about.

I had a word to describe that period of time at Maple: precarious. It could have come to an end at any time. But I always believed the cause of the controversy was because NGOs were a new phenomenon in our country. I founded the first non-governmental women’s organization in China, a lot of people did not understand it; it was likely to produce doubt and denial. As long as the government truly understood that everything we did was beneficial to society, there would be no misunderstanding. So I adopted a plan to introduce our work to various organizations. My hard work eventually paid off. On October 17, 1997, the director of the Petition Office of the Beijing Municipal Political and Legal Affairs Commission, Zhang Junqun, met me and said, I’m meeting you today on behalf of the leadership. What you have done for the public good is beneficial to social stability and unity. The Party supports you, the government supports you, you can rest assured and do your work with confidence. He also said that with Reform and Opening Up, there’s nothing wrong with using foreign investment to carry out public welfare work.

After this conversation, the FWCW controversy basically came to an end and we had a more peaceful environment to do our work. But the repercussions of the controversy continue more than 10 years later. We still sometimes encounter feelings of distrust towards Maple. Most noticeably, Maple has been running for 24 years working for the benefit of society and women, and has received affirmation from many sectors of the community as well as a lot of awards. But we’re still not able to register as an NGO and have a legal identity. I believe this is because of the controversy.

Looking back at how it played out, when Hillary Clinton wanted to visit, I think it wasn’t the Institute or even me that she wanted to see but the Chinese women’s hotline. She is a feminist who has always been concerned about women’s development, had heard about the Chinese women’s hotline and wanted to see it. In 1995 she wasn’t able to but in 1996, Sino-US relations eased and President Bill Clinton paid an official visit to China. Hillary came along too and visited the Shanghai Women Cadre School’s Wei Er Fu Women and Children’s Hotline. She finally got her wish.

We are still flourishing, and I think that we are like maple leaves: the heavier the frost, the stronger our color, the bigger our obstacles, the greater our spirit. After this event, I called us “Red Maple” (红枫).

Involving communities in domestic problems  the birth of the “Half -Sky Homeland” model of women’s equality

After we had more or less settled the problems brought about by the FWCW, Red Maple went on to do a great deal of ground-breaking work. The most important project we pioneered was to establish a model of social organizing for women: “Half-sky Homeland”.

While answering the hotline, I discovered a new problem: many women were telling me that after their rights had been violated, they had nowhere to complain to. In the past, when their husbands had been violent, they would report the issue to their own work unit or their husband’s work unit, and the unit would look into the matter, and give some advice. Now, their work units didn’t want to have anything to do with the problem; and when the women turned to the neighbor committees, even they would just try to make excuses for not getting involved.

Why was this happening? I felt this was a problem worthy of further investigation, therefore I organized a group to look into over four hundred individual cases of domestic violence that we had received through the hotline in the past three years. We conducted in-depth research by analyzing the data, and discovered that the changes in the way society was managed had brought about these new problems.

Before China’s Reform and Opening Up, our work units took on the role of social organizations. The work unit took care of all the matters of its workers’ lives from birth to death, from allocating housing to providing childcare. After the reforms, work units were stripped of their social roles, and these roles were given to the local neighbor committees. The problem was, these committees were not aware of the effects of the social reforms, and had not taken their new duties into account. This is what led to the phenomenon of abused women not being listened to on either front, by their work units or by the local committees.

We compiled and published the results of our research as a book: “Who looks after domestic issues in local communities?” On the basis of our study, we designed a model of social work for women, Half-sky Homeland. Taking the problem of domestic violence as its starting point, this model reflected our people-oriented approach. Using the principles of gender equality as its foundation, the model’s basic aim was to safeguard women’s rights and raise the position of women in the household. Finally, the model brought psychological and legal help to the community by setting up a hotline for counseling and another for legal advice.

This project gained the financial support of the German Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Ford Foundation. I originally wanted to launch this project in Beijing, but the Beijing Municipal Women’s Federation said that the project financing and planning could be handed over to them to be carried out by their experts, without the help of Red Maple. This was clearly not appropriate, and our funders did not agree to the plan either. As a result, I sought to launch the project in Tianjin. At that time, the chair of the Tianjin Women’s Federation was a lady called Wang Zhiqiu, whom I had known from the early stages of the establishment of the Women’s Research Institute. Then, the Institute had just started up a women’s leadership training program, based on research done into women’s political participation, and was proving hugely popular. Zhiqiu had asked me to train the local female cadres in Tianjin. In those days, the Institute was operating from a tiny, six-meter-square office in a primary school. When we received her, we could only sit in the doorway – there was no space for us to even sit in the room together.

As a result of this interaction, I contacted her again and told her: “I have a project with a strong principle underpinning it: to promote a people-oriented, women-focused outlook. I want to use all our efforts to train people in having this outlook, to reinforce it again and again in changing the thinking of local government, female cadres, and residents alike. On the basis of this consensus, we can establish a support network for combatting domestic violence. Do you support this idea?” In those days, society tried to tell abused women: “Family is everything; for the sake of your children, just bear things a little.” But my method was different: I was an advocate for gender equality, I wanted to raise the position of women in the household, to raise women’s awareness of themselves as free agents, in order to end domestic violence.

Zhiqiu answered firmly: “I accept.” So from 2001 to 2005, Red Maple worked with the Tianjin Municipal Women’s Federation to launch the experimental “Community Intervention in Domestic Problems” project in Hongshun Lane Street, Hebei District, to promote the Half-sky Homeland model we had designed. After this project had been launched, we put our main focus on gender equality training for local government officials, local police, female cadres, neighborhood committees, and residents themselves. We ran three consecutive training sessions for the Hebei district court judges. At each training session, the court president or vice president would come with their team. Once, a female vice president came. The first time she came, she disagreed openly and didn’t take in our principles. But she came a second time, bringing with her all the female judges of her court. This way, the trained local cadres built a common belief, recognizing the importance of establishing gender equality and of combatting domestic violence. So when abused women filed domestic violence cases in court, the court would stand on their side; when they went to the police, officers would educate and restrain the abuser. The community-built multi-agency support network successfully fulfilled its function of protecting women’s rights.

After 2005, this support network model continued to spread to other communities, where it was very successful. Households became more harmonious, and a new atmosphere emerged in the community. 80% of all household and neighborly conflicts were solved within the local community; everybody felt they were responsible actors within the community, and that community matters were their matters too. The Tianjin municipal government paid particular important attention to our model, and at the end of 2007, convened a city-wide general assembly, demanding that in three to five years’ time, Half-sky Homeland be established in every one of the city’s three thousand localities. By early 2012, the city achieved full coverage of the program, and started to advance it into the suburbs. In Tianjin, Half-sky Homeland became known as “the new cornerstone of harmony in Tianjin”. Chairlady Peng Peiyun of the Third Plenum of the China Women’s Federation, as well as Gu Xiulian, and Chen Zhili, all highly praise Half-sky Homeland. They believed it is an excellent showcase model for the China Women’s Federation, worthy of promotion across the country.

In the wake of our success, a dozen local women’s federations across the country wanted to learn from the model of Half-sky Homeland, but did not contact me – rather, they went directly to Tianjin to learn from the original model. In the meantime, the Tianjin Women’s Federation had changed leadership: Zhiqiu had stepped down, and a new Chairperson was in place. They used the power of local experts to implement the training. This model now belongs to Tianjin, and has nothing to do with me. From my point of view as a grassroots organization leader, when I think of the fruitful results of my efforts to advance ground-breaking gender equality principles in China, to integrate them into a localized model of community organization, to benefit over ten million Tianjin citizens with such great success, and to promote the building of a harmonious society in Tianjin, I know my work has not been in vain – and I feel an incomparable sense of pride and honor.

Red Maple’s Successor

When I set up the Women’s Research Institute, I was already 58 years old, and retired. Because of this, from the time I founded the Institute, I started looking for someone who could work with me and become my successor. However, 24 years later, I’m still looking. Over these years, we’ve changed staff many times: directors, deputy directors, assistant directors… Some have been kind-hearted and public-minded, but did not have the necessary expertise.

Because the Institute was set up as an institution intended for research, its leader needs to have strong research abilities and theoretical awareness in order to design new projects, and refine them into executable, sustainable and marketable brand-names. After the Institute was renamed the Red Maple Women’s Counseling Center, its purpose became more focused. A leader must not only have research ability, but also have expertise in psychological counseling. If you did not understand psychology, it was very difficult for you to become a strong core leader of the organization.

Do not look down upon civil society organizations; although they exist at the margins of society, are often not taken seriously, and provide basic working conditions, it is not a simple matter to lead one effectively. First of all, such a leader must be highly sensitive to public interest, have a strong will, not care about personal gain and loss, and be prepared to endure both isolation and resentment. In addition, such a leader must be able to deploy a diverse range of tactics, in order to overcome challenges, and to bring together an empowered team of people. Not only must one be at the forefront of one’s academic field, but also have the ability to fundraise the organization’s expenditures.

Speaking of fundraising: finding funds is really a life-and-death issue for a civil society organization. Each year, large numbers of such organizations are born and then die out. A major reason they die out is because they have not found sufficient funding to sustain their activities. A very famous public interest figure once advised me: “Looking for an all-rounded competent and upstanding leader is very difficult. It’s better to find someone who can understand business operations to help you fundraise. Civil society organizations should also follow the example of corporate organizations in running their affairs. Red Maple has funding, how can you still worry about not finding enough professionals to come and work for you?”

I thought that the advice made sense, so I tried employing some entrepreneurs and executives from the corporate world as directors of Red Maple. But the result was not satisfactory. From the moment we took on corporate figures as leaders, Red Maple suffered year after year of financial deficits. The reason was very complex: it had to do with our different philosophies. Although people with business backgrounds did come to Red Maple to serve the public interest, their hearts were really set on making profits. In order to make profit, they may have ventured away from the public interest ethos of Red Maple, and distorted our path. In addition, it was not easy for business people to change roles when entering the public interest sector. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people who have worked in the corporate world for a long time display particularly corporate characteristics when interacting with others, and such characteristics can often leave a bad impression when faced with the compassionate personalities of public interest sector people. The result is a lot of effort with very little success: not only did Red Maple receive less funding, but its image was also damaged. It’s difficult – it seems that my successors at Red Maple will have to be both highly able and also have the public interest at heart. It should not be one person, but a small team, a collective leadership who can display collective intelligence.

China’s Contemporary Feminist Movement

The feminist movement is an umbrella movement: the movement in other countries has many factions. Some are more extreme than others. For example, radical feminism states that the family is the main tool of women’s oppression, and that men achieve control over women through sexual oppression. Because of this, some organizations have developed into lesbian organizations. My political approach is relatively mild: I advocate for gender equality, an equal partnership of cooperation between men and women.

Some contemporary Chinese feminists take political actions, such as occupying men’s toilets, or displaying bloodstained wedding dresses on the street, so that everybody can see the shocking depiction of an abused bride, thus rousing the public’s attention. I think that there is nothing wrong with doing this. To advocate for equality between men and women, different people can use different forms of expression; the feminist movement needs a diverse range of actions and a variety of voices. In South Korea, I have seen similar actions, such as women performing street art with an anti-domestic-violence message. These kinds of actions are very media-friendly, and newspapers rush to report on them; this in turn can exert an influence on society.

Red Maple has recently set up “Speak Out Against Domestic Violence” campaigns in five major cities, using a form of psychological drama to persuade women suffering from domestic violence to be brave enough to speak out and seek the support of the community. Domestic violence will not end of its own accord; only with the support and help of the community can we eliminate violence.

I believe that the fight against domestic violence is a common cause for the whole of society and all civil society women’s organizations. But our voices are still too weak; anti-domestic violence organizations should cooperate, each doing what they are best at. Red Maple has done a lot of research on domestic violence, which is our specialty. To oppose domestic violence, you need to answer many questions, such as: Why do battered women not leave home? Why would a man hit a woman? Can an abusive man change his ways, and lower his fists? These questions should be approached through the lens of theory; we should learn from the research of other countries, setting out from the viewpoint of our own country’s circumstances. Some organizations, by contrast, are more adept at organizing events. All these organizations should work together, dividing up their functions according to their specialties, to form a comprehensive system of social support against domestic violence, in order to effectively help abused women.


  1. program launched by the journalist Deng Fei which goal is to provide each primary school student in Chinese rural areas with a free lunch 

  • 霜重色愈浓——王行娟口述

  • I.口述者王行娟,生于1930年,解放之际参加工作,此后长期从事记者、编辑工作。1988年,王行娟离休后走 上民间妇女研究与赋权之路,于当年创建中国管理科学研究院妇女研究所,研究妇女在社会转型中遇到的问题。1992年,王行娟领导下的妇女所开设中国第一条 妇女热线,此后相继开通妇女专家热线、老年热线、妇女法律语音热线、反对家庭暴力热线等,并于1995年世界妇女大会期间主办非政府组织论坛。1996 年,妇女所从中管院脱离转为工商注册,改名北京红枫妇女心理咨询服务中心,此后将研究与实践相结合,在天津开创了社区干预家庭问题的社会工作模式,该模型 现已推广到全国多个省市。至今,年已八十二岁的王行娟仍在为妇女问题研究与妇女赋权奔波。
  • 访谈时间2012年7月30日 访谈地点北京 红枫妇女心理咨询服务中心办公.
  • 走上妇女研究之路

  • 我长期从事文化工作。大学还没有毕业,就赶上1949年南京解放。第三野战军在解放南京后要继续南下,进军大西南,刚解放的南京缺乏政工干部,于是我离开 了金陵大学,去南京《新华日报》当了个小记者,从此走上了新闻工作的道路。我在《新华日报》工作两年后调到北京的《中国青年报》。文革以后,我进入北京出 版社,在政治理论编辑室编书。我关注妇女问题是从研究青春期少女开始的。1984年广东人民出版社约我和我的老战友楼静波给青春期少女写了一本书,名为《少女必读》。这本书出版后,受 到家长们的欢迎,广州一些新华书店竟然出现排队购买的现象。我发现,书店里几乎没有女性的读物,于是在1986年,在工作之余,和两位好友一起,编辑出版 了中国第一套大型的《现代女性丛书》,在四川人民出版社出版。这套丛书从婚姻家庭、工作学习到穿着打扮,包罗万象,特别受到女性的欢迎,好几本书都获了 奖,共出了二十多本,有的书多次印刷。1985年全国妇联主管的婚姻家庭研究会要办一个机关刊物《婚姻与家庭》杂志,缺少懂编辑业务的人手,于是请我去当 副主编。杂志的主编是当时主管婚姻家庭研究会的全国妇联书记处的一个书记,她是挂名的,实际工作是我和另一个法学家负责,一人编一期,轮着来。正是这一段 经历,引导我从关注少女到关注婚姻家庭以及妇女的命运。上个世纪八十年代的妇女问题与社会的发展紧密相连。粉碎四人帮之后,国家开始改革开放,经济体制和政治制度的改革对妇女既是机遇,更是挑战。国家从原来的 计划经济过渡为市场经济,就要按市场规律办事。在毛泽东时期,实行大锅饭,三个人的饭五个人吃,三个人的活五个人干。虽说不富裕,但人人有工作,人人有饭 吃。实行市场经济后,必须讲求生产效率,讲效益,三个人的活两个人干,才能赚到钱。因此工厂必须把富裕的人剥离出来,1988年国务院开始在13个省市进 行优化劳动组合的试点,“下岗”这个词就是从那个时候开始出现的。由于妇女的弱势地位,很多地方的下岗者百分之六七十是妇女。这些下岗的妇女,都是在新中 国长大的,从小接受的教育是要参加社会的公共劳动,这是妇女解放的重要标志。现在大批的妇女要下岗,要回家,她们接受不了这个事实。而且由于经济地位的失 落,她们的社会地位也随之下降,同时也影响到她们在家庭中的地位。我在《婚姻与家庭》杂志时,就接待过这样的来访者,她们问道。为什么社会发展了,妇女却 要回家了?为什么社会的发展,要以一代妇女的牺牲为代价?她们问我:我们的出路在哪里?我无法回答。那一年,全国妇联的机关刊物《中国妇女》杂志,从第一期到最后一期,全年开展了“1988——女人的出路”的大讨论,就是在探讨这个问题。在1988年,妇女界还出现另一个社会问题:参政问题。当时国家实行选举制度的改革,党委、政府、政协、人大的四套班子的选举,从原来的等额选举改为差额 选举。就是原来选五个人,给你五个名额,你画圈就行了;现在选五个人,给你七个名额,你可以选择其中的五个。这一差额下来,差掉的往往是妇女,很多省市的 四套班子里,竟然没有一个女性。因为在选举前介绍候选人,会说这个人做过什么什么工作,肯定男性的经历有优势,大家就倾向选男性。女性往往只能去文教卫, 谁都可以干的那些工作。那一年,全国妇联的机关报《中国妇女报》,也开展了一个大讨论:妇女参政问题。讨论的核心是:妇女参政的比例下降,是妇女没有能力,还是社会对妇女的歧视?两大问题,在1988年都暴露了出来,而当时没有一个组织研究这些问题。全国妇联下属只有一个中国婚姻家庭研究会。我想,我已经从工作岗位退下来了,我有 时间、也有这个兴趣研究妇女问题,能不能建立一个民间的妇女研究组织,研究当代妇女的热点和难点问题,帮助这些妇女寻找到她们的出路?于是在1988年的二月份,在我的家里,我召集了一个会议,把当时关注妇女命运的一批妇女界精英:谢丽华、谭深、刘伯红等一二十人请了来,探讨筹建一个民 间妇女研究组织的可能性。大家都表示赞成,出了很多好主意。会议开了一整天,中午我招待大家吃炸酱面。这次会议催生了中国第一家民间妇女组织的诞生,大家 亲切地称呼这次会议为炸酱面会议。

    从研究机构到妇女热线

  • 1988年10月,妇女所成立。挂靠在中国管理科学研究院(以下简称“中管院”)下面,这也是个民间组织,因为陈云的关系,由国家科委牵头,挂靠在国务院 体改委下面。那几年,我们就作为中管院的二级机构开展活动,有独立的账号,同时在东城区科委的帮助下,进行了非营利性事业单位的注册。因为是民间机构,没有国家拨款,全部经费要自筹。妇女所两万元开办费,我自己掏了一万,几个朋友凑了一万。我们向索罗斯基金会申请了一个项目:女性就业趋势的调查,得到了五千元的资助,这就是我们草创期全部的家当了。当时国务院在十三个省市搞优化劳动组合的试点,我们选择了汕头、杭州,沈阳等几个城市,到那里访问下岗的女工,了解她们生存的状况和感受。通过调查我们了 解到,如果妇女在提升职业技能、树立自力更生的心态,这些方面得不到解决的话,妇女在现代化的进程中就会缺乏竞争力,她们的职业结构就会下沉。那时候,下 岗馒头、拆洗棉衣合作社……纷纷出现,等于说妇女已经从大生产体系退化到家务劳动的社会化这个层面上了。然而,发现了问题,有了研究结果,而且研究结果也发表了,还不行,它并没有引起社会的关注。妇女问题本来就处在社会的边缘,不像现在的免费午餐那样,一下 子引起政府的注意,问题很快得到解决。那时妇女下岗问题连妇联都没有过问。有一次,福特基金会的一个项目官员问我:“我不客气地问你一句话,你觉得你的研 究能够救妇女吗?你觉得这种研究有用吗?”问得我一愣,哎呀,我真没想过。我开始计算,发表这份调查报告的杂志,有多少发行量,有几个妇女能看到这个研 究,而且能够影响到她的观念,这一算,就觉得真的太少了。于是我开始琢磨把研究和服务结合起来。我认识到,我们的研究不能走学院式的研究道路,不能停留在纸面上。应该找到一个渠道,让研究为妇女服务,让妇女们认 识到,社会不可能退回到改革开放之前,不可能再吃大锅饭,社会也不可能再把妇女重重保护起来。你只能跟上社会的发展,自立自强,用自己的腰杆挺起身来,才 能重新找到在社会中的位置。我们是民间组织,没有钱,不可能给妇女们找个工作,也不可能提供维持她们生活的物质资源,但是我们可以唤起她的主体意识,让她不再存有幻想,自力更生。那 么,怎样才能做到这一点呢?我想可以开通一条热线,只要有一间屋子,一部电话,动员一批有志于服务妇女的志愿者来接听电话,就可以用最小的投入、收到最大 的服务效果。我认识一位外国朋友,她的中文名字叫江琳,是个美国人。说她认识美国一家很小的基金会——全球妇女基金会(The Global Fund for Women),问我要不要申请个项目,我说当然好啊,她问我想申请什么项目,我说申请开通一条妇女热线。于是她帮我写了项目书。1992年申请获得批准, 是1万美元,先付5千美元。当时妇女所没有外汇账号,我开了一个个人账号,来接收5000美元资助款。这个基金会的主要经费主要来自福特基金会,每次资助 的金额都很少,一两万美元,专门资助像我们这些刚刚冒头、连正式外汇账号都没有的民间组织。拿到钱之后,我跑到北师大的心理系和北大的心理系,说服他们的党支部,把招募志愿者的通知书贴到他们的系里。第一批招了50多个志愿者。中国第一条妇女热 线,就这样,在1992年9月2日开通了。当时有些人说,中国妇女没有打电话的习惯,你这个电话热不起来。但是与有些人的预言相反,热线一开通就十分火 爆,电话整天响个不停,甚至有海外华人打来电话。也许因为是新鲜事物,当时很多媒体都做了报道,新华社发了通稿,电台进行了新闻联播,妇女热线一下子在全 国热了起来。那时跟现在不同,现在各种热线多了,电话咨询都分流了,红枫妇女热线不再是稀缺的热线。由于当时我们是最早开通的妇女心理咨询热线,一条线不 够用了,陆续开通了第二条、三条,一直开到六七条。我们对热线志愿者的培训,除了心理学的知识、技能外,还有社会性别的培训。刚开始时还不叫社会性别,“社会性别”这个词是联合国第四次世界妇女大会召开前 才引进来的,当时我们称作妇女意识,或女性意识,强调妇女热线电话要贯穿一条红线,就是帮助妇女自立自强,树立妇女的自我意识。我们先后出过两本妇女热线 咨询手册,第二本加进了社会性别的内容,而且对所有的督导都做了社会性别培训。2001年开始,所有志愿者的培训都有社会性别这一课。
  1. 世妇会风波

  2. 1995年第四届世界妇女大会在中国召开。这次世妇会对推动中国妇女运动的发展,起了很大的作用。联合国开会,有一个传统,就是一部分是联合国主持的世界 各国政府参与的正式会议;另一部分是由世界各国民间组织召开的各种非政府论坛。联合国还给一些著名的非政府组织以观察员的身份,这些非政府组织可以申请在 政府的大会上发言,将民间组织的意见带到大会上。我们妇女所就获得这个荣誉,被联合国经社理事会第一批承认为中国的非政府妇女组织,获准派两位观察员出席 政府的会议.
  3. 这是世界妇女的一次盛会,有一百多个国家派出代表团出席会议。当时的国家领导人江泽民、陈慕华都亲自出席了会议。政府部分的会议在北京市内召开,非政府论坛则放到怀柔县。

中国的非政府论坛由全国妇联牵头,组成了中国非政府论坛组委会。中国共有50多个非政府论坛参与怀柔的活动。世妇会上中国大部分非政府论坛的组织者都不是 真正的非政府组织,后面都有一个政府部门做主管。比如全国女法律工作者协会,后面是司法部;女企业家协会,后面是商业部。只有我们妇女所组织的论坛,没有 任何部委做后台。

妇女所组织的非政府论坛名为“妇女群体与社会救助”。这个论坛的批准费了一番周折,因为我们提出要对弱势群体进行救助,其中的一个议题是家庭暴力受害者。 那时候全国妇联的一些领导不承认中国存在家庭暴力,认为被打的只是个案,中国妇女地位很高,不存在家庭暴力。所以我报了这个题目后,在一次会上,就有个领 导不点名地批了我一通,说:“有些人唯恐天下不乱,说我们有家庭暴力。”我当时坐着浑身不自在,就感觉怎么一句句都冲着我来啊。

后来怎么批了呢?在世妇会筹备的时候,国家发表了第一个《中国妇女发展纲要》,其中提到要禁止家庭暴力。纲要具有法律性,政府都承认了,妇联能不承认吗? 所以妇联批准妇女所的论坛可以涉及家庭暴力的内容,而且让女法官协会组织一个专门的家庭暴力论坛。另外一个原因是,1990年全国妇联和国家统计局做了一 个全国妇女地位调查,调查发现有30%的妇女不同程度地遭受家庭暴力,数据在那摆着,不容忽视。

世妇会的非政府论坛在怀柔开了半个月。我们的论坛只有两个半小时,大家的发言很紧凑。给的屋子很小,但人非常多,连外面的走廊上都站得满满的,影响特别大。

每年北京的八月底九月初,很少下雨,但那一年北京一直下雨,湿冷湿冷的。妇女所参会的很多人,都冻病了。除了身体上生病,更出现了一场风波。

世妇会时,大量的海外记者涌进中国。国家发了一个内部通知,说不许随意接见记者,也不许外国人到单位参观访问,接待要经过组织批准。由于中管院是一个民间 组织,1990年后就和体改委脱钩了,看不到这个文件,这个通知没有传到我这里来。我们接待了一些来访者,大批的接待是通过与我们有项目来往的 UNDP(联合国开发计划署)进行的。UNDP的领导打电话来说有一批记者要采访,我就说你们来吧。结果来了很多记者,他们采访完了稿子没拿给我看,就在 海外的报刊上发表了,这其中是否有一些对中国负面的报道,我就不知道了,事实上我没有说过一句不利于社会和国家的话,西方的媒体是否有强加于我的地方,制 造了混乱,我始终不得而知。但是它引起了国家安全部门的关注。

特别严重的是,美国妇女代表团的团长是美国当时的第一夫人希拉里·克林顿,她到达中国以后,提出要到妇女所参观妇女热线。这下可惹了大祸。那时正值台海危 机,中美关系十分紧张。她那次来中国,不光是国家领导人不见她,就连全国妇联的主席陈慕华都不见她,报纸上没有关于她的任何报道。在这种政治环境下,希拉 里提出要参观妇女热线,这一下惊动了高层。

白宫的电话直接打到妇女所,说要到妇女所来考察环境安全,希拉里要来参观妇女热线。这个电话把我吓了一跳。我说,这个恐怕要通过外交部。对方把电话挂断了。我立即把这个消息报告了非政府组织论坛组委会。

但是大祸已经酿成。妇女所的副所长两次被叫到中南海,询问中管院妇女所是什么组织?王行娟是什么人?为什么希拉里要见她?妇女所的上级中管院也成了被调查的对象。国安部门的人员和电话,络绎不绝,中管院还受到了批评。

当时全国妇联的非政府论坛组委会规定,有些组织可以在自己的单位接待国外的非政府组织,并且最好提供一顿工作餐。妇女所是被批准的组织之一,福特基金会资 助了一部分接待费用,于是我们拟好了接待日期和名单,到首都大酒店订了餐。结果,北京市安全局马上来人说,不许接待。我说这是非政府论坛组委会决定的,对 方说,谁决定都不行。没办法,我答应通知取消会活动和会餐;来人又说,你不许见希拉里,不许去美国大使馆出席他们的酒会。事实上,在世妇会期间,提出要到 妇女所参观的,不止是希拉里,还有一些国家的女领导人、首相夫人都提出要到妇女所参观。来人说,你都不要见,你这几天到怀柔去,不要回北京。

第二天我刚到达怀柔,大哥大就响了。那时候没有手机,只有大哥大,砖头一样大。大哥大不是妇女所的,是一个志愿者借给我们用的。电话是妇女所的留守人员打 来的,说王老师你赶快回来,安全局要见你。我只好又匆匆赶回来。这次见面,安全局的人说,同意你们接待外国朋友,参观妇女热线。但是如果在接待的过程中, 有人打出什么标语,一切政治责任你要承担。我作了承诺。我相信我请的国外朋友不会做出这样的事。

9月5日,我们在热线所在的地安门中学接待了四十多位中外代表,介绍了妇女热线,回答了提问,随后一起吃了饭。接待活动顺顺当当结束,什么问题都没有发生。

但这也违反了纪律。世妇会后我承受了沉重的压力。地安门中学要我们搬家,而我们到处租不到房子,签了约的也反悔。中管院不敢保我,同我们脱离了挂靠关系。 这意味着中管院妇女所的名称不能用了。东城区科委也不再当我们的主管,非营利性事业法人的身份也被撤消了。为了热线的生存,为了机构得到法律的保护,我就 到远郊区进行了工商机构的注册。那时已是1996年的11月底了,百花凋榭,树叶也落光了,只有红叶在绽放。我想,我们要像红叶那样,霜愈重色愈浓,于是 将妇女所改名为北京红枫妇女心理咨询服务中心。

我是民间组织到工商注册的第一个人。

当时有很多人对我说,你革命一辈子,可能因此晚节不保,背着一个政治问题去见马克思,太不值得了。还不赶快把它关了,回家写你的书去。对于这个问题,我不 是没有考虑过,但是当我坐在电话机前,聆听妇女们热切的倾诉时,我下不了这个决心。我深深地感到,虽然只是一条小小的妇女热线,但是妇女需要它为她们解 忧,给她们支持。我认定,只要政府不来封我,我就要坚持下去。封我要有理由,我没有说过一句不利于国家的话,没做过一件不利于国家的事,也没有泄露过任何 国家的机密。从离休以后,我没进过党刊室——像我这样级别的人,是可以看一定的党刊的。既然找不到封我的理由,我就要办下去。我自认受党教育多年,在接待 外国记者时是有分寸的,知道什么该讲什么不该讲。

我曾经用一个词来形容那个时期的红枫 :“风雨飘摇”。它随时可能“无疾而终”。但是我始终坚信,这场风波的引起,是因为非政府组织在我们国家是一个新事物,我创办的又是中国第一家民间妇女组 织,很多人对它不了解,产生了怀疑和否定,是可能的。只要政府真正了解我们所做的一切都是对社会有益的,误会就会消除。于是我采取了向组织诉说的办法,不 断向有关单位介绍我们的工作。我的努力终于有了结果。1997年10月17日,北京市政法委信访办公室主任张冠群等二人会见了我,对我说,今天请你过来, 是代表领导来谈的。你在退下来后,老有所为,你所做的公益事业都是对社会安定团结有利的,党支持你,政府支持你,你完全可以放心大胆去工作。他还说,现在 社会改革开放,民间与国外交往是阻止不了的,用国外基金会提供的资助来开展公益事业,这有什么不好嘛。

这次谈话,对世妇会的风波基本上划上了一个句号,我们可以有一个比较宁静的环境来开展活动,创造新的辉煌。说它基本上,是因为这场风波的余波十几年来始终 未了,对红枫不信任之声还时有所闻,时有表现。最突出的现象就是时至今日 ,红枫成立已经24年了,为社会、为妇女做了大量有益的工作,得到社会各界的肯定,也获得了很多的奖励,但是仍然进行不了民非的注册,得不到一个合法的身 份,我估计同这个风波脱不了关系。

事实上,从事后的发展看,当年希拉里要来参观,并不是冲着妇女所,更不是冲着我王行娟,而是想看看中国的妇女热线。她是个女权主义者,一直关心妇女的发 展,听说中国有了妇女热线,感到很新奇,想来参观一下。1995年她的这个愿望没有实现,转年到了1996年,中美关系有所缓和,美国总统克林顿正式访 华,希拉里也跟着来了。她在上海参观了上海市妇干校的唯尔福妇女儿童热线,终于实现了她的愿望。

还在绽放,我说我们就像这叶一样,霜重色愈浓嘛,从此就叫红枫了。社区干预家庭问题——半边天家园模型的诞生。

在基本解决了世妇会的风波之后,红枫做了很多开拓性的工作。最突出的一个创意是创建了一个社区妇女社会工作的模型:半边天家园。

我在接听热线中发现了一个新问题,这就是很多妇女述说她们的权利受到侵犯后,投诉无门。她们说,过去遭到丈夫的暴力,找自己的单位或者丈夫的单位投诉,单 位多少都会管一管,给个说法,但是现在都撒手不管;找社区的组织呢,也推三推四,不闻不问。

为什么会出现这种现象?我觉得这是一个值得研究的问题,于是组 织人员对近三年来四百多个发生家庭暴力及妇女家庭权益受损的热线个案,进行数据的分析和处理,开展深入的研究工作。我们发现,这是社会管理制度发生变化带 来的新问题。

在改革开放以前,我国实行单位办社会的管理制度,进入单位的员工,他们的生老病死,以至住房分配、孩子入托,等等,都由单位包办。改革开放之后,单位原来 的很多职能被剥离出来,放到了社区。但是社区并没有认识到社会管理制度的改变,没有承担起应有的职责,于是出现了两头都不管,妇女投诉无门的现象。

我们将 研究的成果编辑出版了一本书:《在社区,谁管家庭问题》,并且在研究的基础上,设计了一个妇女社区社会工作的模型,即半边天家园。这个模型,以反对家庭暴 力作为切入点,把以人为本、性别平等作为理念,以维护妇女的权益,提升妇女的家庭地位为目标,以社区作为基地,建立起独立的载体,并以社会工作专业技术作 为工作的方法,在社区开展志愿者活动,还将心理咨询和法律咨询推进到社区,在社区开通心理咨询热线和法律咨询热线。

这个设计项目得到了德国伯尔基金会和福特基金会的资金支持。我本想在北京做,但北京市妇联说,项目资金和设计方案可以交给她们,由她们的专家来做,不用红 枫。这显然是不可能的,资助方也不干。于是我去了天津。当时天津市妇联的主席是王之球,我与她在妇女所创办的初期就认识了,当时妇女所在妇女参政研究的基 础上,开办女领导干部培训班,很红火。之球来找我,希望我到天津给那里的女领导干部做培训。那时候妇女所还在北池子小学里一间只有6平米的小屋子里办公, 接待她时只能在门口坐着,连屋子都进不去。

正因为有这段交往,我找到她并对她说:“我这个项目是有理念的,就是倡导以人为本、以妇女为本,要全力开展这个理念的培训、反复地讲,改变社区政府、妇女 干部和居民们的观念,在思想一致的基础上,建立反家庭暴力支持网络。你能接受这个理念吗?”在当时,社会上对待受虐妇女,都劝说:“家和万事兴,为了孩 子,你就忍一忍吧。”但我的做法不同,我要用倡导性别平等,提高妇女在家庭中的地位,提升妇女的主体意识,来消除家庭暴力。

之球回答很坚决:“我接受。”于是从2001年到2005年,红枫与天津市妇联合作,在河北区鸿顺里街道开始了“家庭问题社区干预”项目的实验,推广我们 设计的模型半边天家园。项目开展活动以后,我们把主要的精力放在社会性别的培训上,培训了当地的政府官员、派出所民警、妇女干部和居委会干部,还有社区的 居民。我们连续三次培训了河北区法院的法官。每次培训,法院院长或副院长都带队前来。有个女副院长,第一次听时开始有抵触,没听好,第二次又来,还带来全 体女法官。这样,培训过的社区干部都有了共同的信念,认识到应该实行性别平等,制止家庭暴力。当社区出现家庭暴力时,受虐妇女到法院打官司,法院会站在妇 女一边;到派 出所投诉,民警会教育、约束施暴者。社区建起的多机构支持网络真正发挥了维护妇女权益的作用。

2005年后,这个模型在一些社区继续推广,都很成功。家庭变得和睦了,社区出现了新气象。社区中80%的家庭、邻里矛盾,不出社区就能解决;每个人都觉 得我就是社区的主人,社区的事就是我的事。天津市政府特别看重这个模型,在2007年年底,召开了全市的推介大会,要求在三五年的时间内,在全市三千多个 社区全部建立半边天家园。到2012年初 ,城区已经实现了全覆盖,正向郊区推进。在天津,半边天家园被誉为“天津和谐的新支点”。三届全国妇联的主席彭佩云、顾秀连、陈至立,都高度赞扬半边天家 园,认为它是全国妇联的优秀品牌,值得在全国推广。

以后全国有十几个地方的妇联想学习半边天家园,但没和我联系,而是直接去天津取经。天津市妇联换了届,之球主席退了,换了新主席,她们运用当地的专家力量 做培训。这个模型现在为天津市所有,同我已经没有什么关系了。对我来说,作为一个草根民间组织的领导人,在社会上首先倡导了世界上最先进的一些理念和方 法,并且将他们整合成一个中国本土化的妇女社会工作模型,在天津市成功地运用,开了花,结了果,惠及一千多万天津市民,推进了天津市和谐社会的建设,面对 这样的成果,我感到我的工作没有白做,并为此无比的骄傲和自豪。

红枫的继任者

我成立妇女所时已经58岁了,是离休以后才开始创的业。因此,从妇女所创办时起,我就在物色能与我一起工作并能接替我的人。但是24年过去了,我始终处在 寻觅的过程中。这些年换了很多人,主任、副主任、主任助理,形形色色。有的人心地很好,也有公益心,但没有专业能力。

因为妇女所从创建时就定位为研究机 构,以研究起家,机构的领导人需要有一定的研究能力和理论基础,才能设计新项目,将项目提升为可操作、可推广的公益品牌。妇女所改名为红枫妇女心理咨询服 务中心,她的定位更加清晰,领导人不仅要有研究能力,而且要具备一定的心理咨询专业知识。如果不懂心理学,就很难成为机构真正的核心领导力量。

你不要小看民间组织,它虽然处在社会的边缘,不受重视,工作条件简陋,但是要做一个好的民间组织领导人,绝不是轻而易举的事情。首先,这个人必须要有很强 的,有坚强的意志力,不计较个人的名利得失,耐得住寂寞和委屈;另外要有十八般武艺,既能在前面冲锋陷阵,又能拢得住人,形成有战斗力的团队;他不 仅要成为学科的带头人,还要有本事筹措到所需的经费。

说到筹措经费,这真是民间组织生死存亡的头等大事。每年有多少民间组织出生了,又消亡了,很重要的原因是筹不到经费,弾尽粮绝。有一位很著名的公益人士曾 经建议我说,你要找一个德才兼备的领导人很难,不如找一个懂得企业运营的人来当领导,帮你找钱。民间组织也应该按企业的方式来经营。红枫有了钱,还愁找不 到专业人员来工作?

我觉得有道理,于是就尝试着聘用一些企业的高管、企业家来当红枫的主任。但结果并不理想。从运用企业人员当领导开始,红枫就连年亏损。原因很复杂,这里有 理念问题。企业出身的人,虽说是为公益而来,但心里想的是赚钱,她可能为了赚钱,偏离了红枫的公益轨道,把红枫的方向给扭歪了。另外,角色的转换也并非易 事。在商界呆久了的人,在为人处事时,往往自觉或不自觉地流露出浓浓的商业味道,与公益界和爱心人士交往,可能发生不合辙的现象。结果是欲速则不达,经费 没有弄来,红枫的形象还会受到损害。真是挺难的。看来红枫的继任人,还是要坚持德才兼备的原则。它应该不是一个人,而是一个小团队,形成集体的领导,发挥 集体的智慧。

当前国内的女权运动

女权主义是一个泛称,国外女权主义有很多的派别。有些比较激进,比如激进的女性主义,她们认为家庭是压迫女人的主要工具,男人透过性奴役对女人实现控制。由此有些组织发展成为女同性恋的组织。我的观念比较温和,我倡导性别平等,男女应建立起平等的、合作的伙伴关系。

目前国内有些女性主义者采取一些行动,如占领男厕所;在大街上展示婚纱上的血迹,让大家看到遭受家庭暴力伤害的新娘形象,引起社会公众的注意。我觉得这样 做没有什么不好。倡导男女平等,不同的人可以有不同的表达方式,妇女运动需要多元化的活动和各种声音。我在韩国也见到过类似的行动,一些妇女在街头通过行 为艺术,反对家庭暴力,和国内的做法很相似。这样做,有新闻性,报纸会抢着报道,在社会上产生影响。

红枫最近在全国五大城市开展了“防治家庭暴力,要大声说出来”的活动,运用了心理剧的形式,让妇女认识到受到家庭暴力以后,要勇敢地说出来,寻求社会的支持。家庭暴力不可能自动停止,只有得到社会的支持和帮助,才能消除暴力。

我认为,反对家庭暴力是全社会和民间妇女组织的共同目标,我们现在的声音还太弱,还不够强大,反对家庭暴力的组织应该实行合作,发挥各自的所长。红枫过去 做过很多家庭暴力的研究,这是我们的长项。要反对家庭暴力,需要回答很多问题,如为什么女人挨了打,不离开家?为什么男人会打女人?男人能不能痛改前非, 放下拳头?等等,这些问题,都要从理论上进行分析,研究和借鉴国外的理论,从国内的情况出发,进行探索。有的组织则更善于搞活动。组织之间分工合作,形成 完善的反对家庭暴力的社会支持系统,给受虐妇女以切实的帮助。红枫和郭建梅的机构

(编者注:即北京众泽妇女法律咨询服务中心)就有多次的合作。我们把一些 严重的、需要法律援助的家庭暴力个案,转介给她们,由她们继续给预法律援助。她们也会把一些心理受到严重伤害的受虐者,介绍到红枫来,进行心理治疗。

(本文经过王行娟老师的订正,在此致谢)

CDB's Deputy Editor

Translated by Hsieh Li, Ella Wong and Yuan Yang

Reviewed by Vanessa Zhang and CDB Staff

Edited by CDB Staff

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