Every year on March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. Macau is home for many international women, whether born locally, from China, or from around the world.
This year International Women’s Day is celebrated under the #BeBoldForChange campaign. Macau Lifestyle is taking part in this global campaign and introducing you to some prominent Macau-based women. We sat down with each of them and asked some “bold” questions. The answers we got are open, real and inspiring!
Founder of Yun Yi Arts and Cultural Communications Association, Christine Hong-Barbosa talks about arts, culture, and feminism. She says, “If you think that it’s the right thing to do, then you have to believe good things will happen”.
She celebrates the beauty of Macanese culture and cuisine as she launches an illustrated Macanese cuisine cook book in collaboration with Julia Lam. Spreading the love for food and illustrations, the creative mom, wife, and woman returned to Macau nine years ago after completing her music studies at New York University.
This year we are celebrating IWD in Macau. What is your connection with Macau?
I was born and raised here. My parents were from Shanghai but I grew up here until I was 16 years old and I left Macau to study overseas. I decided to come back for various reasons and I came back at the right time I suppose because Macau was booming and developing rapidly then.
How does it feel to be a woman in Macau, what is your experience and what are the challenges?
Growing up, I went to an all-girls school and I value the difference of every woman as I have a close relationship with many groups of friends.
Although my Chinese name is often referred to as very masculine, I have always been respected as a woman. I haven’t faced any great challenge but I recognize the issues that women face in the workplace like pregnancy, marriage and more.
These issues are commonly discussed in terms of gender and that’s clearly how people perceive it as normal and people tend to judge accordingly to that. I believe men and women have different roles but that doesn’t mean they cannot have equal pay.
With your work and contribution, what inspires you?
I am proud of our arts and cultural association and that includes work communication to tell people about art as different background or diverse forms of art.
You may notice that the majority of artists in the region are men. In other countries, illustrating is a job for both men and women, like Portugal, but here you’ll notice it is different. I came from a music background and I admire a great pianist like Yuja Wang, she is a seriously talented pianist.
Gender discrimination is more common though in the corporate world than the arts. Women’s work is being recognized all around the world and you have to look at the thing itself and not gender.
The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. While it is still 2017, what makes women different and so important at this time?
Well, people are realizing that women are being treated differently and unequally at work. The awareness is here and you see feminism and feminists in the United Nations like Emma Watson campaigning for that right and that inspires other women.
People are starting to understand that it is not healthy for this kind of discrimination for our country and our future. We address that problem and work towards attaining a solution. Everyone should do their part to close that gap.
This year IWD is celebrated under #BeBoldForChange campaign. What “bold” actions can we do today to help drive gender parity?
I think, speak up and let your voice be heard. When people ask questions about equality, don’t be afraid. It’s easier said than done of course, but speak the truth. Start with the people around you—your dad, your mom, your husband. Do it one person at a time to express how good it is to have equality, give examples starting with good and positive messages. Start with things that you feel right about one step at a time.
What was your bold moment? How did you do it? What motivated you? What difference did it make? How can others learn from this?
I don’t have anything that stands out in particular. I think wherever you are or whatever circumstance you’re in, standing up for what you think is right, that’s something bold and brave.
In your daily life, how do you balance all the woman’s roles?
It’s a hard role to be a woman but not that difficult. We have multiple roles. I personally take time for myself, for my daughter and then with friends. We should have time for ourselves and for family and I balance them well, I think. My husband is very supportive and encourages me to do what I want to do. He is a good role model so I believe I married the right person.
What is the message you’d like to share with all the women out there?
I hope no one thinks less of themselves no matter what their gender is. Have faith in yourself and surround yourself with people who support, encourage and inspire you as a human being. That’s very important.
I would also say, choose your friends wisely and be open-minded. Catch up with what’s happening in the world because that’s the best way to position yourself and what you can do to help others. Don’t be afraid to lose your job if it hinders you in doing something you are passionate about. If you think it’s the right thing to do, then you have to believe good things will happen.
To read more #BeBoldForChange inspiring interviews follow the hashtag #BeBoldForChange.
Arts and Cultural Communications Association www.facebook.com/yunyi.org
Featured Image Above: Yuki Chan