"What you don't know actually does hurt you."-Hilary Watchler
Why We Care
Many do not understand the difference between sex and gender, and many conflate the two. Sex refers to the anatomical specifics of one’s reproductive system (reproductive organs, hormones, and chromosomes), whereas a person’s gender is a socially constructed idea that is given significance through culturally accepted roles and ethos.
Because gender exists as a social construct, it means that cultures create the meaning that is ascribed to gender. In Western cultures, gender is often designated as a binary – either “male” or “female;” however, around the world, gender varies considerably. In many cultures, they designate a “third” gender, which often is ascribed characteristics of wisdom, healing, and sagacity. These people are often seen as seers, shamans, healers, etc. In other cultures, they have many genders. Therefore, there is no one “right” way that gender should exist.
It’s this distinction that is fundamental to the work of The Chang-E Project. While there is no biological or logical reason for gender-based stereotypes of discimination, unfortunately,that is not the case. In China and America, a significant portion of the female population faces an increasingly unfair inequality every day. Ranging from issues like unequal pay, lack of access to better jobs, and some potentially life-threatening issues like sexual harassment and violence, women in Eastern and Western cultures are systematically restrained and silenced. There is also discrimination aimed at men, as well, like parenting rights, criminal sentencing, military conscription, education, and in some cases, biased sexual violence laws. We seek to dismantle all of these gender-based acts of discrimination.
"More than just a project..."
In East Asian mythology, Chang’E is the Goddess of the Moon who plays an important role in representing women’s importance. She symbolizes peace and brings joy to society. One of the most significant holidays in the lunar calendar, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is a special time when family and friends come together for the harvest. During this time, people leave sweets and fruits on open-air altars for Chang’E – including mooncakes.
At The Chang’E Project, we bring light to our collective femininity and the significance of women from Eastern cultures. Chang'E is a play on “Change” which is an English word. At our essence, we strive to promote the evolution and positive shift we want to see in the world.
We aim to minimize gender inequality by creating widespread awareness of existing imbalances and working to eventually reach our ultimate goal: ensuring a globalized acknowledgment of gender discriminations that both male and female populations face on a daily basis.
"Gender Equality is a human fight, NOT a female fight"
- Frieda Pinto
Topics of Focus
Son preference is a gender preference and bias issue in China, in which boys are culturally valued more than girls. This bias has been attached to the gender/sex ratio issue, in which traditionally sons are seen as more valuable to a family than daughters. Long-held misbeliefs that boys would always be more capable than girls lead many mothers to favor sons more. Additionally, governmental pressures (especially in 20th Century China) allowed families to benefit more from having a son. As a result, practices such as abortions and abandonment are common. This cultural bias continues today.
Having access to equal education is an often-overlooked aspect when it comes to gender inequality. Especially amongst rural Asian communities, as the son preference trend perpetuates, many foresee a decreasing female population that receives proper access to learning. It is the driving force behind a higher rate of forced marriage and a lower quality of health in families in those rural areas. Moreover, limited education suppresses their abilities to speak up against this regime.
Sexual Harassment & Violence
Sexual harassment is a method that many use to slow down the progress of others they see as competition. Many perpetrators also harass others to restrict their freedom of movement, reduce agency, and harm them. Minor sexual harassment and abuse towards women are common in workplaces and public areas. In households as well as other private areas, this type of harassment often becomes more serious and leads to domestic violence. Domestic violence disproportionately affects women. As a result, many women’s voices are forcefully suppressed by both society and their partners. This also includes sex trafficking – a major issue that also disproportionately affects women.
Sweat Shop Labor
In the last century, many globalized companies have exploited weaker labor laws in Eastern and Southeast Asia to build factories in developing countries, hiring major workforces at lower pay rates, thereby cutting back on manufacturing costs. However, these companies rarely put into place safety protections and safe treatments for their workers in these factories. Many sweatshop factories employ young women (often as children), as well as some immigrant workers, as a means to cut on their wage distribution. These workers frequently endure tiring working hours (up to 20 hours a day) with minimal breaks for bathrooms and meals. On top of that, very little medical care and law provisions are provided, and sexual harassment runs rampant in these areas.
In the United States, women earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the workforce. For black and Hispanic women, they earn even less – 63 and 54 cents, respectively, for every dollar made by a man. Most workplaces have uncontrolled gender pay gaps; however, when gender pay gaps are controlled, then women make, on average, 98 cents for every dollar a man makes, which is a much greater step towards equality. In East Asia, this issue also runs rampant. South Korea, for instance, has the highest population of underpaid females. and therefore, it is necessary for us to take this into action. OCED estimates about 7.5 of global GDP are lost due to gender discrimation. (see:https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/international-women-s-day-progress-on-gender-equality-is-too-slow-says-oecd.htm)