Xingjuan Wang – China

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

Wang Xingjuan became a reporter at 20. She has been particularly concerned with the scale of problems – many of them new – that women are facing during the process of China’s reform and opening-up. She founded an organization, the Red Maple Women’s Consultation and Service Center, which launched the first of many hotlines for women. Retired since 1988, Wang continues to work for women.

She says: “I have realized that when one is in despair, a helping hand can light up new hope in the one who is in difficulty”.


Xingjuan Wang – China

She works for the Red Maple Women’s Consultation and Service Center.

“The latter idea lingered in my mind and would not go.”This is what Wang Xingjuan said after she retired in 1988. There were two choices for her – she could have chosen the career of writing since she had been dealing with words for decades, becoming a reporter in Xihua Daily when she was 20, then working as one of the first youth reporters of China Youth in 1951, and finally for the Beijing Publishing Company after 1974, or she could choose “to do something for our sisters while China is in a phase of reform and is opening up”. This was the “latter idea” of Wang. For the first idea, Wang had experience, but for the latter one, she would have to start anew.

Wang saw that Chinese women were facing many new problems with the economic and political reform. In the increasingly severe social competition, few women could be independent, skilful and successful with the commodity-based economy. Many women needed some sort of support and help to stand up to the situation; this condition of women is contradictory to women’s emancipation reasoned Wang. “I think I have the desire as well as the time to do something for women,” she thought, and some intellectual women supported her ideas and activities.

In order to help women find themselves vis a vis the new trend in China, in October 1988, Wang Xingjuan initiated a civil organization – Women’s Research Institute under the School of Management Science of China; later it was renamed The Red Maple Women’s Consultation and Service Centre.

In order to launch the Red Maple, Wang experienced many difficulties in setting up Red Maple. Having no office, she rented a one-story house that leaked rain in the summer and wind in the winter; she bought desks and chairs from a second hand shop. There were no official units to be affiliated to, no business licence, no funds. Wang did not give up. The vulnerable women who needed help were always on her mind. She had always wanted to do something for them.

It is an obligation to respect life, enhance the health of women – body and mind – and promote the general improvement of women.

“Females study females, females help females, females educate females”, that is the method of the Red Maple. The Red Maple center studied subjects like “trend of careers of Chinese women in Chinese society”, “characteristics of’ prostitution today and how to deal with it”, and “survey on the life and work of political women below the rank of bureau officer”. Based on their study, they found that, in the 1990s, the Reform had brought to the women both opportunities and challenges. Because of the reform of the economic system, many women lost their original economic and political status. It was necessary for them to find their new positions; the changing marital concept and living style, and the increasing rate of divorce, have threatened the status of women in families.

“Tell us your worries and we will do our best to help”. In September 1992, the Red Maple opened the first hotline for women in China. In September 1993, the Women Expert hotline and the second hotline for women were opened. In January 1998, the hotline for elderly women was opened. In March 2004, the Red Maple opened a hotline for domestic violence. These hotlines have played an important role in relieving the psychological pressure of women, improving their self-confidence and self-strengthening, and enhancing their mental health.

The Red Maple recruited and trained many volunteers, most of whom are highly qualified intellectual women. “Loving people, loving lives, loving society”. That is the volunteer spirit proposed by the Red Maple.

Bingxin, a famous writer, praised the Red Maple hotline, “the hotline is the most intimate friend of Chinese women”.

The Red Maple has always focused on the vulnerable sector of women.

In 1994, they conducted a survey on single mothers, in 1998 the Ark Family Center was established, which provides psychological and social service for single-parent families. Groups and groups of single mothers and their children went to the ark. In 2001, Wang introduced the foreign method of “client-oriented approach” and practiced “community intervention in family problems” in Tianjin and “servicing the community with psychological services” in Xuanwu District, Beijing. These helped her to find the way to protect women’s rights in the new era and generally enhance the growth and development of women.

For more than ten years she has worked incessantly. The color of her hair has changed from black to white. “From my own experiences, I realize that when one is in despair, a helping hand can light up new hope in the one that is in difficulties.” It was her most frightening memory that she had attempted many times to commit suicide in her youth: if somebody had helped out then, things would not have been so difficult for her.

Wang says: “I would love to be someone who holds out her hand to the needy,” and “The sentence I like most is – To influence life with life”. (1000PeaceWomen).

Interview with Wang Xingjuan, Global Feminisms Project, March 12, 2004.



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