Thank you very much.
My question is for Ms. Sun.
Hello. I hope you're doing well today.
We've just celebrated International Women's Day, so my thoughts are turned to the issue of women's rights. On the eve of International Women's Day in 2015, Chinese authorities jailed five feminist activists for planning to hand out stickers on subways and buses against sexual harassment. News of the arrest of the “feminist five”, as they became known, spread swiftly, sparking global protests and diplomatic outrage. Luckily, the government released the women after 37 days.
Then, on International Women's Day two years ago, Weibo and WeChat both banned the most influential feminist social media account, called Feminist Voices, because it “posted sensitive and illegal information”. Thousands of students signed #MeToo petitions demanding action against sexual harassment, but many of these petitions were deleted by censors soon after being posted on social media.
The shrinking public space for discussing women's rights in China is very concerning for me. I find it particularly ironic given the importance of gender equality during the communist revolution in the early Mao era, following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, since the early communists enshrined the equality of women and men in the constitution of the People's Republic, and the government introduced ambitious initiatives to put women to work in building the new communist nation by the 1970s. They in fact boasted that the biggest female workforce in the entire world was in China.
Could you please give us an update on women's rights in China and what Canada and other countries can do to support the feminist movement in China?