I felt deep discomfort to see young Nepali women segregated in small, locked, open-air quarters during their menstrual period. During my freshman year of college, I spent a month in Nepal researching how the caste system impacted women’s lives and surveying the country’s judicial and social discriminations against women. Through interviews with local activists and scholars from Kathmandu and smaller villages, I realized that the social and judicial system was rooted in cultural traditions that relegated women to an inferior, vulnerable position in society. This experience motivated me to acquire the education and knowledge needed to become a human rights attorney and dedicate my career to dismantling gender inequality in communities around the world where women’s voices are not loud enough.
In 2020, I completed my independent research on the structure of Chinese families, exploring the root of gender inequality and approaches to address the situation in my hometown Shenzhen, China. Though I visited scholars and government officials to gather data and theories on gender issues in China, what proved most insightful in understanding the core issue of gender inequality was a systematic survey with 193 subjects from different industries, ages, and educational levels. Most interviewees acknowledged that gender inequality exists in their immediate environment. Men tended to avoid addressing the problem, while women did not realize the legal tools available to them. Even in one of the most advanced cities in China, where education and the economy are thriving, the underlying causes of gender inequality were similar to those of Nepal. My subsequent research demonstrated that traditional culture and religions are entrenched in negative stereotyping and prejudiced social environments. Women, largely unaware of the law as a source of equal access to justice and due process, resort to these social norms as a way to seek justice. However, the standards tend to work against that effort.
Even women who seek to appeal to the law find it difficult to access affordable and effective legal counsel that could help them in lengthy, costly cases of sexual abuse. My independent research in China helped me realize that laws have limited meaning if people cannot speak up and participate in the judicial process. As an attorney, I would be able to help the disenfranchised find a voice. I decided to pursue internships at renowned Chinese law firms to familiarize myself with the practice of law and gain the practical skillset that would help me to succeed as an attorney.
As a legal intern in Shenzhen over two subsequent summers, I assisted with due diligence, drafted memos, conducted legal research, and interacted with lawyers to address pressing legal questions. Working outside the safe space of academia, I was challenged by complex litigation. The meticulous work of researching cases and writing briefs in support of attorneys familiarized me with the legal process and work. In the fall of 2020, I served as a pro bono legal volunteer at Qianqian Law Firm in Beijing. One woman I assisted was a middle-aged victim of domestic violence, and another was a teenager who had been sexually abused and made to carry the child to term. In general, the victims I helped had suffered abuses for years but felt powerless because of high costs and social stigma. I wondered: how many more women were being abused and had no means to seek help?
With all these monumental questions in mind, my career aspiration is to work at law firms practicing international human rights law. My career objective is to help the most vulnerable and the indigent in society and enforce their human rights. Most importantly, I seek to leverage my skills and knowledge acquired to conduct gender rights advocacy and women’s rights empowerment as a path to improving their quality of life and human dignity. I believe human rights is a tool of empowerment and a precursor for human dignity.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) School of Law is my dream scholarly destination to achieve my career aims and objectives. The school offers a perfect environment and a diverse and conducive learning atmosphere. CUHK Law will ground me with solid legal principles and skills necessary from a wide spectrum of courses. I will also combine theoretical and practical aspects of the law with exploring the legal world while interacting with world-renowned faculty members. In this vibrant community, I am able to grow professionally through clinical opportunities in the Hong Kong Human Rights Law Clinic, moot court competitions, and engaging in student communities such as Sir TL Yang Society. Furthermore, after the completion of my JD program, I will be able to enroll in Courses for Postgraduate Certificate in Laws Programme (PCLL), which will allow me to be accredited to practice law as a solicitor or a barrister in Hong Kong. I relish the chance to study at the CUHK Law since it will be the beginning of realizing my career aspirations and objectives.
Studying at Liberal Arts College in the US grants me transferable skills like problem-solving, critical thinking to make connections among different subject areas, and interdisciplinary insights that will help me broaden my view and approach to tackling complex social issues in the area I am interested in.