Huge engagement and desire for change are often what characterises #FirstGeneration inspirational figures. Shi Yu, Zhang Wenmo, Chi Ge and Jiang Yuqing are no exception. These four driven and inspirational young women want to engage in highlighting gender equality issues and women’s rights. On behalf of, and with the support of, the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing, the girls created a social media campaign about #Firstgeneration, which was spread so widely they were rewarded with a study visit to Sweden. Among those they met in Stockholm were representatives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, with whom they discussed gender equality and sustainability.

Shi Yu, Zhang Wenmo, Chi Ge and Jiang Yuqing all have a burning commitment to gender equality. In the second half of 2016 they took part in a competition organised by the Swedish Embassy in Beijing on the theme Global Goals and #FirstGeneration. They chose Global Goal 5 – Gender equality – and produced a viral film and designed a training day for women only. They now hope that the film and the training initiative will help people to question norms and bring greater attention to gender equality.

Interview with the girls about gender equality.

The visit to Sweden included several activity-filled days in Stockholm. One day was spent at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In recognition of their burning interest in gender equality, the students’ first meeting was with Gender Equality Ambassador Ann Bernes.

Shi Yu, Jiang Yuqing, Gender Equality Ambassador Ann Bernes, Zhang Wenmo and Chi Ge.

During their meeting with the Gender Equality Ambassador they discussed Sweden’s feminist foreign policy and the importance of gender equality – gender equality is a goal in itself but it is also a means and a precondition for achieving other objectives. The discussions raised many interesting questions about norms, rights and the importance of gender-equitable education, both for girls and boys

They also met Sweden’s CSR Ambassador, Diana Madunic, who explained what Sweden is doing to promote corporate social responsibility and sustainable development.

Jiang Yuqing, Zhang Wenmo, Ambassador Diana Madunic, Chi Ge, Shi Yu and Gabrielle Stööp.

It was an inspiring day for all concerned. The Chinese students’ drive and engagement were impressive, many interesting questions were raised and the similarities and differences between Sweden and China were discussed. Four very satisfied students left the Ministry for Foreign Affairs after an intensive and instructive day.

– “It has been inspiring meeting these talented and driven people and hearing about what they are doing to increase gender equality. It gives me the impetus to keep promoting these issues. Even on minor issues, we can all change things a little bit at a time and do something to make sure that things move in the right direction,” said Jianq Yuqing.

Gender equality in focus.

The viral film about gender equality in China, made by Zhang Wenmo.

Big thanks to the the Embassy of Sweden in Beijing for making this trip possible!