Female activism has been growing in China, through a series of high-profile moves and public gestures.
For example, to protest against domestic violence, the activists have taken to the streets decked out in blood-stained gowns.
To protest against the lack of women’s toilets, they have staged sit-outs outside government offices and departments, and to protest against gender quotas in universities, they have shaved their heads bald and chanted slogans on the streets.
Mainly in their 20s and 30s, these young women have also produced catchy videos and circulated them online.
The activists explain that they are employing these deliberately-conspicuous tactics because their more traditional methods were neither making an impact nor delivering results.
One of the activists, Zheng Churan, said: “When men beat up their wives and the police are summoned, the police will say they do not want to get involved in domestic affairs. They will tell the couple to settle it themselves and not to be so troublesome.
“But such an approach is a deprivation of women’s rights and even human rights. So we have to take a more proactive approach and bring the matter more aggressively to the public.”
To fight against workplace discrimination and female harassment, the activists have written to large firms, including Fortune 500 companies.
They have also petitioned lawmakers to push and even legislate for changes.
Another activist, Li Maizi, said: “We also want more gender-free toilets to be built as these will satisfy the needs of people with neutral dressing.
“They are also useful for mothers who need to bring young boys into the toilet with them. But doing so may be uncomfortable for some females.”
Apart from generating gender awareness, activists also hope to reduce, if not eliminate, gender stereotypes that have long existed in Chinese society.
Activist Liang Xiaomen said: “In colleges, males need lower scores to gain entry to some faculties which are dominated by women. That is unfair. When it happened in 2005, a female was interviewed for her reaction and her reply was ‘What can I do? I admit defeat for being a woman.’
“But now in 2012, we women do not want to admit defeat. This is wrong. We want to change things. I think this is wonderful progress.”
Analysts said the more active approach taken by these activists is in line with the gradual and cautious release of breathing space for civil society in the country.
But they know that they too need to heed caution, as they will only be allowed to continue as long as they do not overstep the mark and push too aggressively for changes they seek.