Ms. Guo Jianmei, public interest lawyer and human rights activist, speaks at USALI

On Thursday, November 21, the USALI Lunch Series featured Ms. Jianmei Guo, one of China’s first public interest lawyers and a leading women’s rights activist. In 1995, Ms. Guo established the Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University, China’s first legal aid clinic dedicated to providing legal aid to women, and remained the director of the Center until 2010 when the program was canceled by the University. Professor Ira Belkin, USALI’s executive director, spoke with Ms. Guo about her diverse experiences in the public interest law field and with NGOs in China, among other topics.

Speaker Profile:

Guo Jianmei, one of China’s first public interest lawyers, has been fighting for women’s rights in China for the past 17 years; handling numerous legal aid and public interest litigation cases on behalf of women and conducting extensive research on women’s rights protection and legal aid institutions.

Ms. Guo has made it her life’s work to become a pioneering first generation non-government organizations (NGO) practitioner and an influential public interest lawyer. After graduating from Beijing University in 1983, during a period of great reform in China, Ms. Guo served at the Ministry of Justice, the All China Women’s Federation, and the All China Lawyers Association, where she devoted herself to the protection of women’s rights and interests. During this period, Ms. Guo travelled around the country to gain a better understanding of the situation for women in China.

In 1995, after participating in the 4th World Women’s Conference in Beijijng, Ms. Guo established the Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University, China’s first legal aid clinic dedicated to providing legal aid to women. Ms. Guo remained the director of the Center until 2010 when the program was expectantly canceled by the University. Ms. Guo also founded the NGOs Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling and Service Center and Women’s Watch-China, a public policy and resource center dedicated to supporting women’s rights groups.

Ms. Guo has used her legal background to help draft laws such as the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women”, and later led the implementation of the project on “Problems in the Implementation of the Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Countermeasures”. Ms. Guo has received numerous awards and recognition, most recently, Ms. Guo was a recipient of
the International Women of Courage Award in 2011 and the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for women’s freedom in 2010.