New Models for Asian Women?

by on 週六, 02 九月 2006 評論
Is it easier to be a woman today than was the case before? In Taiwan, in urban China as in many countries, the answer is in many respects affirmative. The principle of equality between genders has gained ground, a new social culture has been in the making for quite a long time, tolerance towards women’s assertiveness, educational opportunities as well as the range of job openings have grown markedly. Obviously, this is not to say that everything is perfect! Women are still paid less on average than men for the same job; domestic tasks are shared unequally; a number of subtle social discriminations are still to be observed day after day. And women’s destiny varies a lot according to social classes and educational background. Besides, what has been just said is only valid for a limited number of countries, while women from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Africa for instance still suffer from the most basic forms of discrimination.

In Asian context, the change in social and cultural models is often met with disarray. What does it mean to be a woman today? Between the traditional mother, the executive woman, the Buddhist nun, the entertainment idol or the lonely woman artist, which model to choose or promote? Of course, there is not one single way of being a woman, and that diversity is at the root of an healthy social atmosphere. However, a society needs a few models, a few references to offer to his or her citizens in order to facilitate the formation of identities (including gender identities) and to forge a consensus on moral and cultural issues.

Today, this consensus is lacking. Some people will argue that changes have been going too far, and that we need to esteem more the traditional motherly tasks attributed to women, especially in societies that suffer from a very low fertility rate. Other will try to conciliate successful career opportunities and family duties, sometimes at the risk of being burnt out. Still other women will plead for even greater opportunities in the field of economy and politics. Differences of behavior and style between men and women will be emphasized by some as an asset for women promotion, while other people suspect in this stress on gender specificities a flavor of sexism and discrimination. Young women are often hesitant to identify models of older women whom they admire and truly want to imitate. In religious organizations, in companies, in politics, the role of women and the way they should play it remain something of a burning issue.

Renlai wants to initiate the conversation. The section 'Women in Asia' offers a variety of answers, a number of testimonies on the way Asian women currently see their status, their challenges, the way they confront their identity problem. We also try to integrate men into this conversation. For men contribute in defining women’s roles, as women expectation help men to challenge the roles they are expected to play. Ultimately, gender roles can be only defined through dialogue, introspection, mutual respect and collective creativity.





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