I have volunteered extensively in regions where environmental degradation has affected the livelihood of minorities in western China. My participation in WWF, Oxford Foundation Hong Kong, and several other international NGOs has made me aware how poverty and ecological deterioration intersect. Recently, I worked as a coordinator for a poverty alleviation program in Gansu sponsored by NGOs from Taiwan and the United States. During my participation, I found that gender inequality is a very serious issue and was a major contributing factor to the endangering of the environment in Northwestern China. Northwestern China is my homeland, so finding ways to combat both gender inequality and environmental degradation in this region is my long cherished ambition.
My senior thesis, “Changing Spheres, An Ecofeminist Perspective: How Institutional Transformation and Desertification in China Affect the Social Construction of Gender and Labor in Northwestern China” was given the highest award for an undergraduate thesis at Lanzhou University. My field site was Minqin County, China which has faced the worst ecological disaster in the history of the PRC. In order to understand women’s changing position related to environment degradation and economic reform, I did extensive fieldwork and also collected related historical data. I also gathered the oral histories of 43 local female peasants.
Because NW China has long been considered as the hinterland region, I have not had the opportunity to learn and share my experiences with oversea scholars and fellow activists. I hope that through the Global Environments Summer Academy 2012 I can not only broaden my perspective, but also bring the knowledge back to people who need it the most.