Women, Gender and Rural Development in China

Women, Gender and Rural Development in China

Edited by Tamara Jacka and Sally Sargeson

This multidisciplinary book explores gender politics in the discourses and practices of development in rural China. The contributors – scholars in political science, anthropology, gender, development and Chinese studies – examine how differently positioned women are shaping rural development, and how development is affecting women’s capabilities and gender power relations.

Chapter 7: Developing Yunnan’s Rural and Ethnic Minority Women: A Development Practitioner’s Self-reflections

Zhao Jie

Subjects: asian studies, asian social policy, development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, social policy in emerging countries


Zhao Jie INTRODUCTION For more than a decade, I have been engaged in Gender and Development (GAD) research and intervention, specializing in the area of rural women in Yunnan.1 Frankly speaking, in all these years I have never paused to consider the question of why we GAD practitioners pay special attention to rural women in Yunnan. I have not questioned the received wisdom that rural women are illiterate or semi-literate, impoverished, have inadequate healthcare and lack basic rights. In this chapter, I take the opportunity to reflect on and question orthodox views and, indeed, my own beliefs about the development of rural women in Yunnan. I begin with a simple question: how is this subject, ‘rural women in Yunnan’, constructed and deployed in development research and practice? Why are rural women characterized as illiterate, and as suffering poverty, inadequate healthcare and the absence of basic rights? Are these accurate descriptors, or just constructed labels that allow us to arrive at simplistic affirmations or refutations because we actually are unable to explain the situation clearly? Or, is the construction ‘rural women in Yunnan’ itself actually a manifestation of gendered political processes of development? It has become a commonplace that in recent years China has experienced rapid, overall development. Yet despite that development, the gap between rich and poor continues to grow, and the gap between the economic and social status of urban and rural women becomes ever wider. These contrary trends also are part of the reason for my inquiry, and...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information