Mingxia Chen – China

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Let us take action for and strive towards gender equality in our country and for a better life”.

Mingxia Chen - China rogne r70p.jpg.

Mingxia Chen – China

She works for the Gender and Law Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chen Mingxia, 64 years old (in 2005), is director of Gender and Law Research Center in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Board Chair of the Network Against Domestic Violence under the Chinese Law Society. She conducted research on civil law and, in 1996, started to focus on human rights of women in 1990. Human rights and domestic violence were sensitive issues in China with some people even denying the existence of such problems when Chen started to research these two areas. Since then she has helped many victims of violence and evolved democratic management of NGOs that take up these issues.

Chen found that the law on women’s rights had many deficiencies and did not provide adequate protection to women. In 1993, under her initiation and planning, a pilot scheme on the implementation of women’s law was conducted in Qianxi County, Hebei Province. Under this new scheme judges, lawyers and staff of women’s federations were given comprehensive training, and women’s centers were established in villages; the scheme gave a new impetus to the work for women’s human rights in the whole county. The experience gained from Qianxi County was shared throughout the Hebei Province in 1996 and the pilot scheme was awarded a ‘Government Innovative Prize’.

Moreover, a new local law on domestic violence has now been formulated for the province. The uniqueness of the project of protecting women’s rights is reflected by the subsequent extension in the aim of protecting the human rights of women. In 1998, some feminists in Beijing got together to form an NGO to advocate against violence on women. Chen had influence in the field of law and also substantial experience in the implementation of the law of women rights, as she was professor of civil law in the Law Department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In 2000, the Chinese Law Society conducted a large scale project concerning research on domestic violence (which was later renamed “Anti Domestic Violence Network”) under sponsorship from organizations like the Ford Foundation in USA, NOVIB in the Netherlands, SIDA in Sweden and the Human Rights Center in the University of Oslo. The project which involved multi-disciplinary studies, a nation-wide survey and co-operation between different organizations is a collective undertaking with inputs from scholars and social activists in the areas of law, sociology, social work, gender studies, media, women’s work and others. It aims at rectifying the attitude of the public, the members of the judiciary, and social workers towards domestic violence on women.

The project also involved investigations into the status of domestic violence in China and judicial intervention along with research on legislation, publication in media and gender training. The investigation and research were aimed at creating public awareness so that the measures against domestic violence in cities and trial schemes of multi-organizational co-operative efforts in villages could be implemented. Fifteen subsidiary programs concerning establishment of anti domestic violence information centers, web sites, gender trainings, research on violence against women and judicial intervention were conducted. A website for voluntary sharing of information was constructed. All participants in the project were volunteers, except for two or three full time employees.

Chen retired from her previous job to take up the job of chief project coordinator and to lead and coordinate the simultaneous implementation of more than 10 projects. She and the committee members achieved their goal of changing people’s attitude toward domestic violence to a considerable extent in three years’ time by promoting intervention on family violence. They laid a solid foundation for Phase II of the project by setting rules of democratic management for the NGO.

In 2003, Chen and her partners founded the Center of Gender and Law Research in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to popularize the concept of gender studies in the society and to strengthen the importance of gender in the study and implementation of law. Before the start of the second phase in 2004, the executive committee of the NGO was restructured by Chen to separate the different functions of management and execution for better performance of the organization. Her proposal, which was accepted by the committee, also paved the way for democratic management of NGOs in China. After being elected committee member, she was later appointed chairperson of the new committee.

Chen was rewarded for her hard work by the considerable achievement of bringing domestic violence out of the closet and into public discourse, judicial intervention and the social support she has received. However, her commitment to research, social service, and working for women rights does not leave her much time for her personal life. Chen suffered from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus due to excessive work and was unable to take care of her sick husband.

To date, 24 provincial members and 22 city members in the Anti Domestic Violence Network meet regularly to share their intervention experiences with the aim of promoting anti violence campaigns in the nation. The network has gained this intervention experience in villages as well as in cities. More than ten provinces and several cities have implemented local laws on domestic violence. (1000PeaceWomen).

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