Skip to content Skip to navigation

HRIC Honors Female Rights Defenders in China

March 8, 2012

To commemorate International Women’s Day, HRIC honors two remarkable female rights defenders, Wang Lihong (王荔蕻) and Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), by presenting short video portraits of their work.

By their actions, both have stood up to defend the most fundamental rights of a citizen:  to be able to speak freely, seek justice without fear of official recrimination, and live with dignity.

What compelled them to do what they have chosen can perhaps be summarized by what Wang Lihong once said to her captors who wanted her to promise to stop helping others:

I am a person with conscience and I cannot guarantee that I will remain silent in the face of suffering. ... If I remain silent when confronted with suffering and wickedness, then I will be the next person beaten down by evil.

Wang Lihong

In 2008, instead of living out a comfortable retirement after working for the Beijing government and as a business woman, Wang Lihong chose to defend the rights of others. She began helping others by providing material and emotional support and by public action. She organized donation campaigns to help those neglected by society, visited the families of the victims of injustices. She wrote letters to officials to implore them to allow a group of detainees to spend Chinese New Year with their families, and joined a public protest to support three netizens in Fujian on trial for publicizing a rape and murder case. The last action cost her nine months of freedom, for what the authorities charged as “picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” She was released on December 20, 2011.

Ni Yulan

Ni Yulan had worked in a commercial law firm in Beijing before she began her rights defense work in 2001. She helped petitioners and those forced out of their homes to make way for construction related to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. By the end of 2002, her license to practice law was revoked, and because of injuries sustained by police beatings, she could no longer walk without crutches. Her persistence in her rights defense work in the ensuing decade would land her in prison twice and render her homeless. On December 29, 2011, she was put on trial again, for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles” and “fraud.” In January 2012, the Dutch government awarded Ni the Human Rights Defenders Tulip. The court, required by law to issue a ruling within one month and a half of the date it accepts a case, has issued no verdict as of March 8, 2012.

A female Chief Executive in Hong Kong?

On March 25, 2012, a 1,200-member Election Committee will select Hong Kong’s next Chief Executive. The two leading candidates, Henry Tang and Chun-ying Leung, are Beijing backed and supported. The sole female candidate, Regina Ip, dropped out of the race when she was unable to secure enough nominations to run in the 2012 election. Looking to the future, HRIC spoke with Hong Kongers for their thoughts about a female Chief Executive.

We invite you to see their answers in “Do You Think There Will Be a Female Chief Executive of Hong Kong?,” a new segment of the HRIC Word on the Street video series.

International Women’s Day

In 1908, the Socialist Party of America first designated March 8 as National Women’s Day to honor women garment workers protesting working conditions. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly called on member states to recognize March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. International Women’s Day has become a day in which we all recognize the achievements of women not only around political and human rights, but in shaping our collective history.


The videos of Wang Lihong and Ni Yulan are available on HRIC’s YouTube channel at:

For more information on Wang Lihong, see:

For more information on Ni Yulan, see:

Explore Topics

Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention Arbitrary Detention Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue
Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship Children Chinese Law
Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists Citizen Participation Civil Society Communist Party Of China Consumer Safety
Corruption Counterterrorism Cultural Revolution Current and Political Events Cyber Security Daily Challenges
Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents Economic Reform Education Enforced Disappearance
Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China Family Planning Farmers Freedom of Association
Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion Government Accountability Government regulation Government transparency
Great Leap Forward Heilongjiang Lawyers’ Detention Historical Anecdotes History/Experience Hong Kong House Arrest
House Church Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights updates Ideological Contest Illegal Search And Detention
Inciting Subversion Of State Power Information Control  Information monitoring Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
International Human Rights International Investment  International Relations International Trade International Window Internet
Internet Governance Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping Labor Camps Labor Rights
Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System Legal World Letters from the Mainland
Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC) New Citizens Movement Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Olympics Online Activism Open Government Information Personal Story Persons With Disabilities Police Brutality
Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Propaganda Protests And Petitions
Public Appeal Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor Rights Defenders Rights Defense Rule Of Law
Southern Street Movement Southern Weekly Special Topic State compensation State Secrets State Security
Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Taiwan Technology Thoughts/Theories Tiananmen Mothers
Tibet Torture Typical cases United Nations Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups
Women Xinjiang Youth Youth Perspective