Your Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, members of the Magsaysay family,
distinguished guests, trustees, fellow awardees, ladies and gentlemen:
I feel very honored to be an awardee of the 2001 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service.
In honoring me, you honor countless women and men who advocate and fight for gender
equality, the rule of law, and the involvement of people at the grassroots level in making
changes for a better China and a better world.
My thanks go first to my deceased parents, who not only gave me life, but also instilled
values in me - integrity, honesty, caring, and sharing. They were my first teachers, who
taught me with their words and with their actions that China needs people who are willing
to dedicate themselves to her and to the people. I learned from them that I am a human
being first and a woman second; that as a woman I can have my own career and a family.
They also taught me that as a social being, I should respect and share with others, reach
out to help, and to make changes.
Next, I say "Thank you" to women, especially rural women whom I have had the
good fortune to know, serve, and learn from. Women in the remote areas in China have
taught me of their valiant struggle to overcome poverty and deprivation. This has
empowered me. I want to join forces with them to make the needed changes. Though many of
them are illiterate, they know their priorities - equality, development, environmental
protection, and peace. Without their advice, wisdom, and support, I would not be receiving
It is those courageous women who have helped me decide that placing women's issues firmly
on the Chinese agenda is a cause to which I will dedicate the rest of my life.
All my constituents who have supported me for seventeen years also deserve my heartfelt
thanks. My experience as a deputy has matured my capacity for participating in politics.
Those constituents have helped me to learn about the Constitution, the system and
functions of the People's Congress, and the rights and responsibilities of an individual
and a People's Deputy. As China changes from a planned economy to a market economy, our
understanding of democracy and the rule of law will grow. The people insist that their
views be reflected by their deputies, and they demand accountability from us. I am
especially encouraged by the amendment to Article 5 of the Constitution, the first
paragraph of which provides: "The People's Republic of China governs the country
according to law and makes it a socialist country ruled by law," which was adopted on
March 15, 1999.
I want to thank my husband, Chen Shu, who has come with me to receive this award, and our
son, Chen Gang. Without their inspiration and help, I would not have had time to do this
And finally, I thank the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for giving me the award. This
recognition empowers and encourages me to work still harder for women and men in China. I
hope it will do the same to all the Chinese people and people throughout the world.
The mission is clear. It is equality, peace, democracy, and justice for all peoples.