Story of first Tibetan woman lawyer

2013-03-08 08:33:00 | From:

Yangjen, is a Tibetan woman lawyer. And there are 72 others like her, taking up 39.2 percent of all the lawyers in the whole Tibet Autonomous Region with 60 of them under the age of 40, and over 95 percent of them with undergraduate degrees after the reform and opening-up policy was adopted.

"In the past, we Tibetans take contracts as taboos,"said the first lawyer in Tibet.

With the economic and social development of Tibet,the legal awareness has been raised. Since early 1990s, the civil and economic cases have been increasing for more people have begun to resolve disputes in the legal framework, according to Yangjen.

She also recalled that before 1951, women’s social status was very low due to the patrilineal social system. They were prejudiced the same way as "contracts" in Tibet.
Likewise, women's social status also led to the prejudice held toward them in education. If any woman was literate, she would be despised. And 95 percent of the women were illiterate then.

In 1951, life of Yangjen’s mother changed, which in turn changed Yangjen’s life. After the first primary school–Chamdo Elementary School was established in the same year, Yangjen’s mother got an opportunity to go to school, becoming one of the first batch of its students, where she started to receive formal education learning Tibetan grammar and rhymes of Tibetan poems.

Afterwards, Yangjen's mother was sent to the Tibetan College of Nationalities located in Xianyang in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, where she continued to work after graduation. In 1964, Yangjen was born in Xianyang, and she moved to Lhasa at the age of three with her parents.

She said, "my peers at the same age have all started to work after graduating from junior high school. Without my mother's persistence, I wouldn't be able to go on to the senior high school and up to the Southwest College of Political Science and Law in 1981 as an honored student, and one of the only five Tibetan students in my class."

"As a college graduate of ethnic Tibetan, it is my obligation to go back to my hometown and do my bit," she added. 

In 1985, Yangjen gave up all other opportunities and returned to the plateau-her hometown. It was in the same year that Yangjen quit her job as a civil servant and opened her own law firm in Tibet, starting her 28-year career as the first woman lawyer in the region.
Over the past 28 years, Yangjen and other women lawyers have witnessed the development of Tibet's legal system.

From a descendent of former serfs to a woman lawyer, Yangjen is a good example of the escalated social status of Tibetan woman. Since the Outline for the Development of Women in Tibet Autonomous Region(2011-2015) promulgated in November 2011, women at the grassroots level have been working hard and made great contributions to Tibet's remarkable progressthe led by Tibet Women's Federation, a women’s NGO.

In 2012, the Women’s Federation at all levels allocated over five million yuan in the training of all urban and rural women of the whole region, such as setting up the pool of skills training including weaving, dyeing, cooking, driving, home management, vegetable planting and so on. A large group of Tibetan women of herders and farmers were provided with technological expertise, management savvy and leadership skill in helping local Tibetan strip of poverty. For example, altogether 1,274 urban and rural women grasped the basic skills in housework thanks to the 18 training classes.

"I want to help my fellow Tibetan women," Yangjen made up her mind decades ago. And this has been carried on by women of younger generations.

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