International Women’s Day 2022: Banners and posters make a statement on Chinese college campuses

Society & Culture

Open feminist activism is not allowed in China even though the country began celebrating International Women’s Day in 1950. But this year, college students still found ways to celebrate the holiday with attitude.

Students look at a poster made in honor of International Women’s Day at Shandong University of Technology. Image from Weibo.

International Women’s Day (IWD or guójìfùnǚjié 国际妇女节) has been observed on March 8 across the world for more than a century, including in China. The Communist Party began celebrating the holiday after it took over the country in 1949: From 1950, women could take a half day off from work for what is sometimes called “3-8 Women’s Festival” sānbāfùnǚjié 三八妇女节.

This year’s theme, as announced by the United Nations, is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” On social media, people are encouraged to use #BreakTheBias, the official hashtag associated with the 2022 IWD theme, to show support and encourage others to help forge women’s equality.

In some parts of the world, activism inspired by the occasion has extended beyond social media posts. In Pakistan, despite efforts by authorities to bar demonstrations, thousands of women rallied today to protest against social injustices and discrimination. In Turkey, a series of feminist marches took place ahead of today in major cities, where particiants came out in force to speak out against femicide and urge officials to rejoin a Europe-wide convention protecting women from violence.

In China, there were no mass protests or rallies. But messages of female empowerment and gender equality sprung up at scores of college campuses, where young female students proudly voiced their embrace of feminist principles and support for women’s rights through poignant posters and sharp banners. Throughout the day, Weibo user Jiāncháyuàn er @​​煎茶媛er asked followers to share IWD-themed posters and banners they spotted at Chinese universities. Here are some of the most powerful ones:

“Women hold up half the sky and give the mountains and rivers a new face.”
“Be alert to blandishments. Pay tribute to independent women.”
“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
“We don’t need an illusive crown for a goddess. All we need is real rights for women. Smash patriarchy.”
“Be alert to blandishments. Pay tribute to independent women.”
“A woman is not an attachment to a person — her husband — nor to the small moral unit of the family, much less is she an object of exploitation of the capitalist and the ruling classes — Clara Zetkin.”
“‘Women’ is not a derogatory term. Women are way more powerful than what sociological imagination leads us to believe.”
“Regardless of your appearance, I wish you courage, strength, independence, and freedom.”
“I want the freedom and courage to be myself. I wish every woman in my school a happy International Women’s Day! P.S. Any female above 14 is a woman.”
“Words to women, sent by the spring. Every person who walks by can draw a paper printed with quotes from the box. Hope we will forever be independent, equal, proud, and free.”
“I support gender equality. Only women can help women. The world needs women. The world needs US.”

“Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Please live life the way you want.”
“Today is not Girls Day or Goddesses Day. Today is International Women’s Day. We wish a happy International Women’s Day to all the people who truly care about gender issues and support the fight for gender equality! Girls help girls!”