BYU Asian Studies Journal


BYU Asian Studies, Republican China, women


When the Qing dynasty fell in 1912, Chinese nationalist and communist forces fought to gain power. Both groups looked to build their base of support among the socially repressed, which included women and peasants. Thus, women’s emancipation became a central issue, and it remained primary until 1924, during an era known as the May Fourth Movement (Lan and Fong 1999, p. ix). Nationalist and communist forces both promised women better lives, in terms of education, love in marriage, value in family life, a role in the revolution and social activism, and emancipation. Mao Zedong summarized the enthusiasm of the time with the statement “women hold up half the sky!” It was a time of upheaval for all of China but particularly for women.