Housewives Get Their Lives Back , Interview with Virtuous Lady Club
Text: Wing Ng (volunteer); English Editor: Talia (volunteer); Photo: Virtuous Lady Club
“I want to live easily for myself
no one should live like a machine
I want to write a song for myself
I want to travel bringing myself”[i]
Getting Life Back
“This is an original song written by our singing club.” Hoi Yan, one of the members of Virtuous Lady Club, introduces their collective work with a passionate voice. “it describes one of our members’ lives as housewife, inspired by a time she had to go out and get dinner for her family when she was sick.” Most women from grass-root families work constantly to fulfil the needs of family members, however, they always forget their own needs. Now, these women are telling the world they want to get their lives back.
Married women are encouraged to play a subordinate role at home to support men’s and kids’ growth. Winnie Cheung, Vice Chairperson of Virtuous Lady Club, hears these stories during Virtuous Lady Club’s exhibitions and workshops, “I often hear from female audiences that ‘this is it’, ‘I don’t or do not dare to resist’, or ‘my husband will blame me’…. It grieves to see women in this way of life.”
“Rebuilding women’s good health and good life” is the mission of Virtuous Lady Club. Virtuous Lady Club focuses on grass-roots women’s health and personal development—a critical issue that is not on the radar screen of larger organizations. Leveraging artistic creation (including drama, song-writing, photography), skill sharing workshops, and public exhibitions, the Club hopes to give a break for women from routine housework, encouraging them to reflect and re-purpose day-to-day life. Winnie and Hoi Yen emphasize, “Freedom of life is important to all family members, including me, myself.”
An Expanding Vision: Osteoporosis Education
From housework to community work, what makes these women so passionate about the public health of grass-root women? Winnie was a tutor for a beauty and makeup class in community center 5 years ago before the Virtuous Lady Club is established. She now spends most of her free time promoting and building up the club.
Just as Virtuous Lady Club encourages its members to think beyond housework, so has the organization expanded its own vision. In 2017, one of the leading social workers initiated a proposal to HER Fund for funding, and things changed. “Since HER Fund requires applicants to clearly state their goal in the proposal, the committee decided to focus on Osteoporosis as this is very among common among housewives approaching menopause.” They use the grant to do campaigning for more resources to prevent osteoporosis, workshops to reduce the stigmatization of menopause stage, community education campaign, and training workshops for organizers.
HER Fund has not only providing funding, but also training to the Club members. HER Fund offers event planning training, proposal writing skills, public relations training, mentorship and more. As Winnie shares, she found these trainings are very useful for leading teams and organizing events.
Virtuous Lady Club is a small charity, and could hardly get funding from any social funds. The Club was established in 2014, and received HER Fund support in 2017. It currently has over 100 active members with a committee of 8 elected members. Winnie and Hoi Yan said that, the wide network of HER Fund brought the Club “out from the estate” to a wider platform.
Strengthening the Backbone
Housewives are often the backbone of family as well as the society, yet they lack protection from the economic regime. They work hard, however, they are not given sufficient support in their late age. Worst of all, these women are often not aware of their own rights, or to the services available to help them. The ladies in Virtuous Lady Club are doing a great job to promote the importance of women’s public health.
Throughout the interview, Winnie presented her great passion for social issues and her creativity in representing complex community issues. Winnie emphasized, “with financial and professional support, I could then start working for this community.”
The ladies wish to help more women get their lives back.
[i] Lyrics quoted from The Club’s originate song, which is written and song by the club singing group in 2018.