Ahead of this year's International Women's Day, which falls on Thursday, China Daily reporters talked with six businesswomen who are also national legislators or political advisers, inviting them to share their stories and insight on the role of women in today's fast-changing society.
Question 1: As a female entrepreneur, do you view your gender as an advantage or disadvantage in your career?
Question 2: Have you read the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook? How do you like it? How do you balance work and family life?
Question 3: With more Chinese families having two children, an increasing number of women are returning to be housewives. What do you think of this?
Question 4: Although Chinese women enjoy a high political and social status, there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality. For example, there are far fewer female national legislators and political advisers than their male counterparts. What can we do to further raise the social status of Chinese women?
A1.I don’t think there are apparent differences that distinguish male and female entrepreneurs. The key is to have the responsibility for the business. To be more specific, what I need to do is to manage the quality of the products and build a good relationship with local residents.
A2.As a working mom, I cannot spend all my day with my 2-year-old daughter. I try to spend as much time as possible with her when I am not out on business trips. My husband and I try to take good care of her. If he’s not working, then he’s home with the kid.
A3.A stay-at-home-mom faces more challenges compared with a working mom. Staying at home means the wife needs to take care of kids and other family members all day long, and probably nothing about her day is hers. But the thing is, everyone might have a bad day every now and then. I think stay-at-home-moms need more emotional support and more understanding.
A4. Women now enjoy equal rights with men in many aspects, though women might naturally shoulder more responsibilities in Chinese society and they face more challenges in terms of work-life balance.
"Women now enjoy equal rights with men in many aspects, though women might naturally shoulder more responsibilities in Chinese society and they face more challenges in terms of worklife balance. I think stay-at-home moms need more emotional support and more understanding because they face more challenges compared with a working mom."
Yang Ying, president of Yalong Bay International Rose Valley in Sanya, Hainan province, brought flowers to her room after arriving in Beijing on Sunday, the day before the annual NPC session started.
She is a first-time deputy to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature. Flowers gave her "a feeling of familiarity", as she has been devoted to her gardening career for more than 20 years.
After she graduated from college in 1995 in Shenyang, Liaoning province, the arts major decided not to follow the same path as her classmates and instead chose to turn her love of flowers into a career.
Yang spent two years studying planting in Shanghai, gained some experience and later moved to Sanya to start her company. She felt the tropical climate there was more suitable for planting roses, as the winter demand for the flowers in inland regions was hardly being met by the limited supply.
"It was not easy at all at the beginning, but it was worth the great effort," she said. "A lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance are needed to build a 'rose valley' from scratch."
With policy support from the local government, her company expanded at a fast pace. The rose valley she cultivated created many job opportunities, which significantly helped boost local employment.
Around 70 percent of her company's 600 employees are residents of the surrounding villages. They are responsible for planting and watering the roses, and providing accommodation to tourists.
In 2013, President Xi Jinping visited the rose valley, which Yang said gave her "great confidence".
Looking ahead, she has plans to develop the rose-processing industry related to rose planting, such as the processing of rose oil and rose water, and wants to attract more visitors to the rose valley.
"An initial public offering is not an option for the company," she said. "Making a greater contribution to lifting more people out of poverty and helping them lead better lives are my top concerns."