Women Changing China

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Barnard College and President Debora Spar hosted the inaugural Barnard College Global Symposium in Beijing, China on March 19, 2009. Women Changing China brought together some of the most prominent women in China today – leaders in government, commerce, academia and the arts. 

The event honored the legacy of one of China’s first feminists Kang Tongbi, daughter of political reformer Mr. Kang Youwei. Ms. Kang was Barnard’s first Asian student a century ago and, along with her father, advocated successfully to eliminate the traditional practice of footbinding in China.

Panelists included Yang Lan, a leading television anchor, media entrepreneur, and philanthropist;  Wu Qing, an esteemed advocate for women’s rights in China; Yan Geling, one of China’s most acclaimed contemporary novelists and screenwriters; and Ruby Yang, an Academy Award-winning Chinese-American filmmaker.

“Our panelists demonstrate the remarkable roles that women now play in all facets of Chinese life, and the importance of continuing to educate women everywhere,” said President Spar, who moderated the discussion. “From Kang Tongbi in the early twentieth century to Hilary Clinton today, women leaders shape societies. Now more than ever, we need to inspire young women to think expansively and courageously about the impact they can have on the world.”

Read highlights from the day's discussions.