“It doesn’t matter where you were born, women should have the same opportunities as men to receive an education,” said Ching Tien, the founder of Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC) - a not-for-profit that claims to have lifted more than 1,280 girls in rural China out of poverty.
Tien, along with representatives from WeWorkingWomen a large Chinese women’s leadership network, is going to hold an online conference on June 13 to discuss how education can change people’s lives for the better.
Meanwhile, they are also going to celebrate the 15th anniversary of EGRC.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to finish my education in China. But I believe that society should treat men and women equally because empowering women can build better societies,” said Tien.
Born and raised in Beijing, China, in the 1950s, Tien dreamed of studying at university. However, the Cultural Revolution - a decade-long social and political movement launched by Mao Zedong - shattered her dream and forced her to leave school to work in a factory in China’s northwest province of Gansu for eight years.
Tien describes her experience in the most impoverished region in China as a “life-changing event.” She was shocked to see the level of gender inequality rooted in rural areas where women have faced social and financial barriers to accessing education.
“Many girls I met in the village suffered from abuse and discrimination. Some even had to drop out of school at an early age to work in a factory to pay for their brother’s tuition.
“One little girl told me her greatest fear in life was being sent away by her parents, as they believed that boys mattered more than girls,” said Tien.
In 1983, Tien immigrated to Vancouver and started her own family. However, she never left her experience in Gansu behind.
“Seeing my children growing up both happy and successful, I couldn’t help thinking about those girls I met back in Gansu. They deserve the same chance to embrace a bright future,” said Tien.
In 2005, Tien founded EGRC and began speaking publically about the importance of educating girls in China.
Over the past 15 years, she said she has made it possible for more than a thousand young women to obtain their high school and university education, which, in turn, has enabled them to contribute even more to their communities.
“My goal is to help more girls from rural areas of China to come study in Canada and see the world from a different perspective,” said Tien.
The online event will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. For more information, visit https://egrc.ca/.