Chess as female empowerment featured in “Half the Sky”

December 15, 2009

The New York Times bestseller by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide includes sobering stories about women who are trafficked and abused in the developing world that will humble most readers. But this book equally deals with women who survive and thrive, explaining how the emancipation of women is not only a moral imperative, but also beneficial to local and global economies. One chapter that dealt with redemption on a large scale was “The Axis of Equality”, where the authors explain how China has turned from one of the least gender progressive nations to one of the most equal. To further this point, they invoke some names dear to 9queens: Chess Grandmasters Xie Jun, Zhu Chen, Xu Yuhua and Hou Yifan!

“Chess is one of the most male-dominated pursuits all around the world, and that is also true in China-but women there are catching up more than elsewhere. In 1991, Xie Jun became the first women’s world chess champion from China and since then two other Chinese women–Zhu Chen and Xu Yuhua have succeeded her. Moreover, a girl named Hou Yifan may be the greatest talent ever in women’s chess. At the age of fourteen in 2008, she narrowly lost in the finals for the women’s world Championship (to 9queens’ guest of honor next week, Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk), and she is still improving rapidly. If any female now playing is to wrest the title of world chess champion from men, it is likely to be her.”

It’s wonderful to see mainstream writers recognize chess as a symbol of empowerment for girls. Go Hou!

Categories: News / Women in chess

Leave a Reply