This article fills a scholarly lacuna in Chinese feminist and diasporic literature by revealing the long-neglected pioneer feminism of Kang Tongbi (1881–1969), especially her organization of Chinese women across Canada and the United States to promote gender equality and reformist politics from 1903 to 1905. Drawing on Kang Tongbi’s unpublished autobiography and other untapped sources, this study shows that she initiated or helped found at least 11 chapters of Baohuang nühui, the Chinese Empire Ladies Reform Association, in 12 Canadian and American cities and mobilized its members into struggles for women’s rights and the political reforms led by her famous father, Kang Youwei. The organization especially pursued female suffrage and gender equality in education. Most chapters declined after 1905 because of the organization’s overreliance on Kang Tongbi’s personal leadership and inconsistent endorsement from male reformers. Nonetheless, its short history reflects both the historical limitations and significance of early feminism in China and the Chinese diaspora.


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pp. 3-32
Launched on MUSE
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