March 8 is International Women's Day. In China, we say women "hold up half the sky". In Chinese myth, a goddess named Nv Wa amended the broken sky and created human beings. Like the earth, women have been always taken as a symbol of caring and nurturing. And the moon, water, flowers, cats and snakes are connected with women. They symbolize the softness, adaptability, beauty and wittiness of women.
With multi-identities in modern society, women are not only mothers and wives who take care of their families, but also doctors, scientists and teachers who care about their patients, experiments and students. Their softness, adaptability, and wittiness become weapons to fight for their dreams and against sexual discrimination.
We chose five prominent women in recent years whose achievements encourage more young women to pursue their dreams. Since we often use flowers as metaphors when describing women, these "flowers" will surely never wither either in history or in our memory.
Soprano and China's first lady
She was called "Peng Mama" (Mother Peng) as a term of endearment when she became first lady. As a celebrated soprano, Peng has been well-known for her beautiful voice since her debut at the 1982 CCTV Spring Festival Gala. She is the first soprano in China to receive a master's degree in Chinese folk vocal music. Her wide vocal range conveys a strong passion in Chinese folk music in a gentle, lovely, yet powerful way. Her famous songs include Ode to Red Plum Blossom and On the Hopeful Field. Her fashion sense, called "Liyuan Style", is a symbol of grace and elegance. Since 2004, Peng has devoted herself to many programs for the public good, such as the help for AIDS and tuberculosis patients and a stop smoking campaign. Her image and actions reflect the beauty – inside and out – and the pleasant character of Chinese women.
With her soft smile, she looks like an amiable granny who anyone might have. She is Tu Youyou, who was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discoveries of a new therapy against malaria. She is the first Chinese female scientist to win the Nobel Prize. Her studies were inspired by traditional Chinese medicine theories and she extracted artemisinin in 1972 after hundreds of failures. Artemisinin has saved more than 200 million Africans suffering from malaria since 2000. Just as Tu said, "Artemisinin is a gift to the world from Traditional Chinese Medicine".
Professional tennis player
Many people were impressed by her powerful groundstrokes and quick reflexes when she played the game. She is Li Na, who started playing tennis when she was only six. In 2004, the 22-year-old Li became the first Chinese female player to win a WTA tour title. After winning nine WTA singles titles that includes two Grand Slam singles titles at the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open, she became the first and only Grand Slam singles champion from Asia. She is also active in philanthropy, donating 500,000 yuan ($83,000) to Yushu in Qinghai province after the 2010 earthquake.
President of Gree Electric Appliances Inc
Dong's story lets you know that age has nothing to do with being a successful woman. She is the representative Chinese businesswoman who succeeded and broke the glass ceiling through industrious work. In 1990, she joined Gree when she was 36 years old and started her career from doing sales work. She became Gree's president in 2012. Her achievements helped China's home appliances industry to develop in an environmentally-friendly way. As a widow who lost her husband when her son was 2 years old, single mother Dong brought up their son and still fights in the competitive market.
Yao Chen, who most people know through her wonderful performance in the 2006 comedy series, My Own Swordsman. Since then, she has become one of the most influential actresses in China. In 2009 she started to use her Sina Weibo, which now has 79 million followers, to help people in need. In 2013 she became the first UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees) goodwill ambassador in China. And at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016, she was awarded the Crystal Award for artists who commit themselves to improve the state of the world.