As the founder and editor of Rural Women Knowing All magazine and secretary general of the Development Center for Rural Women in Beijing, Xie Lihua is a powerful advocate for millions of rural women – helping them acquire the knowledge and tools to build successful, independent lives. Through literacy training, gender awareness education, access to microcredit, and other self-help programs, she is restoring dignity and hope to women who have for too long been made to feel inferior.
Her commitment to women’s literacy was forged in the early 1990s, when, on a trip to promote Rural Women magazine, she was shocked to discover how many village women couldn’t read it. Since then, her initiatives have grown to encompass a Migrant Women’s Club for women workers in the cities; a non-profit school for rural women and girls; a Domestic Workers’ Support Network; and a Rural Women’s Suicide Prevention program.
Xie Lihua has described how the first time she went to Zhangxian County in Northwest China, all the women in her literacy classes lowered their heads, too shy to meet her gaze. Now, when they see her, they sing an “anti-illiterate song” they wrote themselves.