She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Guo Jianmei was born in 1961, and has been engaged in the protection of women’s rights, and related research. In 1995 she initiated the establishment of the Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University. This center provides free legal aid, and endeavors to develop the protection of the rights of women in need in China. It has contributed greatly to the progress made by lawyers and NGO’s working for civil rights.
She asks: “If laws cannot protect poor and helpless persons like my litigant, why should we lawyers exist?”
GROWTH AND SUSTAINABILITY: HOW WOMEN ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE, THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE WOMEN’S FORUM ASIA, Shanghai, the Pudong Shangri La hotel, 15-17 May 2008: confirmed speakers, and public program.
Jianmei Guo – China
She works for the Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University.
After she became a lawyer for public legal aid, the first case that Guo Jianmei took was of a woman trying to pursue a lawsuit for her son; on her way to Beijing, a car knocked her down, causing damage in the clavicle and lumbar regions and blinding her in one eye. According to all relevant departments, the other party in the accident should have taken full responsibility but they paid merely 30 thousand yuan, which was a pittance – an artificial eye would have cost 100 thousand yuan. To make matters worse, the 30 thousand yuan was later stolen. Guo was devoted to the case. The procurator script was over 10 thousand characters and Guo gave it her best, debating vigorously in court.
This was the first case that Guo took up after the establishment of the Women’s Laws Research and Service Center in the Law School of Peking University. And it was during the proceedings of this case that she became determined to be a lawyer for public legal aid.
Guo was born in October 1961 in a teachers’ family in Huan County, Henan Province. Before going to university at the age of 18, she had witnessed the poverty, underdevelopment, and the violation of women’s rights in the village where she lived. All these left their mark and remained deep in her heart. In 1983, Guo graduated from the Department of Law, Peking University.
Later she worked in the Institute of Judiciary, the Legal Consultant Office of the National Women’s Federation and the China Lawyers’ magazine of the National Lawyers’ Association. While working at these posts, she continued paying attention to the protection of women’s rights and interests.
From 1993 to 1995, Guo cooperated with the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Science to implement the project ‘A Study on the Existing Problems in Implementing Women’s Law in China and its Counter Measures’. They carried out profound investigations and research on the situation and the problems faced in the protection of women’s rights and interests in China. A substantial special report of the study was written.
In 1995, after attending the Fourth International Forum for Women Lawyers, Guo initiated the Women’s Laws Research and Service Center in the Law School of Peking University. In 1996, she resigned from the post of assistant editor of China Lawyers starting to work in the Center to provide legal aid for women full time till today.
The role that Guo assigned herself to was of becoming one of the members of the first generation of influential civil lawyers and NGOs. And this became the legal platform for her work. As the leader of the Center, Guo provides free legal services to poor people, particularly with the aim of protecting the legal rights of poor women in need. She helps poor women to solve their problems from a new perspective, guaranteeing their legal rights in the social, political and economic arena. She also arouses their awareness of women’s rights and helps them to acquire legal knowledge, aimed at eliminating their poverty, both spiritual and cultural. This is also enhances the personal development and fulfillment of women.
During its nine years of operation, the Center has received nearly 40 thousand legal consultations – through telephone, letter, personal visit and e-mail – which have come from 28 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. It has handled over 430 cases for poor women around the nation, free of charge. Typical problems faced by the women include violation of labor rights among rural migrant workers in the city, entrenchment of female factory workers, domestic violence, violation of women’s rights in marriage and family, sexual harassment and sex discrimination. There are more than 80 complicated cases being handled by the Center through legal action and active research, exploring different ways to protect women’s rights, to provide legal aids, and to give feasible legal advice. Guo also participated in the revision of the Marriage Law in 2001 and the enactment of the Regulations for Legal Aid in 2003.
She has published 8 books of her own , and edited three volumes of the popular law readers Everyday Life Law, and A Guide to Women’s Legal Aid Cases.
Guo is conscious of absorbing relevant experience from overseas. As a matter of fact, she herself and the Center are the products of international exchange. Since 1993, Guo has visited many countries like the USA, England, Canada, Holland, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Cyprus. In these trips, she either visited women’s rights groups and organizations providing legal aid, or took part in international seminars. During these past ten years, Guo has been urging herself to work faster and harder. The moment I decided to set up the Center, I set my life’s goal at becoming one of the first-generation civil lawyers in China. With this goal, I have to dedicate all my physical and mental strength, and to sacrifice my material comfort. In my opinion, the career that is least understood by the public requires most the people’s contribution. And those who want to take up this career should not only be equipped with professional competence, but a great sense of sympathy, of justice, and enthusiasm. I believe I am the right person. And I know the society needs such people. (1000peacewomen).
NYU.edu: on Asian La study.
Guo Jianmei confirms that most cases of domestic violence go unheard because of the universal reluctance to “wash dirty linen in public. “On the few occasions that such cases come to light, they are impeded by the concept that “Even an upright official finds it hard to settle domestic differences.” Law enforcement departments generally turn a blind eye to cases of domestic violence, or are at best lax in their law enforcement. Guo Jianmei insists that perfecting relevant laws and formulating more detailed operational procedures on domestic violence is imperative. In the decade or so since its establishment, the center has provided consultation on more than 50,000 cases and given free legal aid to 550 poverty-stricken women by acting as their agents in lawsuits. It has, moreover, submitted to relevant departments more than 70 attorney opinion letters, suggestions for legislation, and reports. Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of former U.S. president Bill Clinton, and Nane Lagergren, wife of former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, have both visited the center … (full long text).
… A key part of the Center’s success has been its ability to foster connections among clients, other NGOs, the media, and government. It established China’s first non-governmental website and hotline to provide legal services nationwide, and in 2005 launched Women’s Watch-China – an evolving program that will gradually be built into a searchable database and public policy center on women’s rights. It has built a network of legal aid partners, including anti-domestic violence advocates, lawyers, hospitals, sociologists, public officials, courts, schools, media, NGOs, and psychologists in 28 provinces across China. Meanwhile, the Center has cultivated relationships with journalists who have helped advance the dialogue on women’s rights. The results are clear: Since the Center’s founding, its team has assisted more than 7,000 people, tried nearly 500 cases, and won more than half. As Guo Jianmei puts it, Through our work, we are trying to help women abandon the tradition of bearing their burdens alone. (full text).
Find her profile on Zoom-info.
… Her ground-breaking work on promoting women’s human rights in China has resulted in major changes in laws and policies. She’s responsible for bringing in the first domestic violence, sexual harassment and gender based discrimination cases in China. She is renowned internationally for grounding breaking advocacy and lawyering for under-privileged in China . Ms. Jianmei is currently the executive director of PKU Law School Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services, Associate professor of PKU Law School by part-time and board member of China Institute of Marriage and Family Law. Ms. Jianmei in part with the PKU Center have completed many research programs including the programs of application of CEDAW in China and of domestic violence and legal aid. She’s recognized in China as the first full-time public interest lawyer in China … (Lawyer’s Collective).
In December 1995, inspired by the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Jianmei Guo founded China’s first legal aid clinic, The Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University. The Center helps women protect their rights, drafts proposed legislation for the government, and publicizes the plight of women abused by their husbands, employers, or government. Its pioneering work has helped to strengthen and safeguard women’s rights, while expanding the impact of Chinese civil society … (full text).
The Legal Aid Society, Employment Law Center/ what’s new;
Protecting Women’s Rights and Promoting the Advancement of Women through Cause Lawyering, Legal Aid, Research and Advocacy: Jianmei Guo, Peking University Women’s Law Studies and Legal Aid Center;
a href="http://marriages-site.blogspot.com/2008/02/marriage.html">Marriage, 2008.