Shen Jilan: Women’s Model People’s Representative
Our reporter Qiao Dong
Shen Jilan was awarded the titles of “National Model Worker”, “National Excellent Communist Party Member”, “Reform Pioneer” and “Most Beautiful Struggler”. In 2009, he was elected as one of “100 Chinese People who have moved since the founding of New China.” In 2019, he was awarded the “Medal of the Republic”.
Shen Jilan was born in Pingshun County, Changzhi, Shanxi in 1929, and married to Xigou Village in the same county at the age of 17. Xigou Village in the crevice of Taihang Mountain “the mountain is a rocky mountain, and the river is a rocky beach”. Shen Jilan said: “In a word, there is nothing in metal, wood, water, fire, or soil, and it is not good for the people to eat and wear.”
In order to feed the whole village, Li Shunda, a model worker, established a cooperative with several mutual aid groups in 1951. The scale of production has expanded, and male labor alone can no longer complete the production plan. Li Shunda proposed to let Shen Jilan serve as the vice president and mobilize women to join the labor force. When she was young, Shen Jilan not only worked but also had ideas. Shen Jilan not only led the women of the same village to the fields, but also won the same work points as male laborers for them. Xigou Village has completely realized “equality between men and women and equal pay for equal work.”
In 1953, Shen Jilan was named the first national model worker and was received by Chairman Mao. In 1954, Shen Jilan was elected as a deputy to the first National People’s Congress. At the First National People’s Congress, Shen Jilan’s “Equal Pay for Men and Women of Equal Work” initiative was written into the Constitution of New China. He was elected for the first time at the age of 25, and Shen Jilan is the only NPC deputy to be re-elected for the 13th term.
In the 1960s, Shen Jilan led the masses to plant greens in the “Shitougou”, failing and replanting again and again, and finally planted the Taihang Mountains around Xigou Village with trees.
In 1973, Shen Jilan was transferred to the director of Shanxi Provincial Women’s Federation. She made an unexpected decision, “No salary, no transfer of account, variable rank, no special car.” Ten years later, Shen Jilan, who had expired, returned to Xigou to find a new direction for farmers to get rich. Shen Jilan said: “I am a farmer’s representative. Only by living among them can I understand their suffering and needs and better speak for them.”
In the early morning of June 28, 2020, Shen Jilan passed away in Changzhi, Shanxi, at the age of 91.