Based on China Wakes, are women in China better off now or in the past?
I think that WuDunn would conclude that while China is struggling with the uncertainty of the future and the rather terrible conditions of its past, women have a better bet with what is ahead than what was behind them. The portrait and WuDunn and Kristof render is one in which the mass violation of individual rights was perpetrated on the largest of scales. Women's rights and advancement of the women's predicament was not going to happen in these conditions. In the terror of Tianamen Square and even going back farther into the Mao initiatives, women were very low on the priority list. The economic modernization in which China is emerging, though still state run, has a better chance of improving the lives of women through work and through economic empowerment than anything else offered in the past. The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution did not empower women in any particular way. There was nothing in China's history that enabled women to find their own voice. Adding to this the intrinsic violation of women's rights seen in the One Child Policy or in the rise of human trafficking, it becomes clear that women in China have a better chance at happiness now than in the past. WuDunn and Kristof argue that the economic form of power that is enveloping China and making it a force that has "awoken" is where women will be able to find hope and find some level of reprieve from a past where so much has been endured.