ALTHOUGH she has been married for three years, Linda Wong is adamant that she should be addressed by her maiden name, Wong Sau-yung, not Mrs Lui, her husband's name. 'Being called by my husband's name implies that I no longer belong to myself but to his family. My husband is my partner and we each have our own autonomy,' Ms Wong, 29, said. It's not a philosophy she feels should be kept to herself either. As the woman in charge of the Federation of Women's Centres, Ms Wong has been helping other women to develop their own identity and confidence for the past six years. Ms Wong and two other social workers at the Lai Kok Estate centre, which is funded by the Community Chest, counsel rape and incest victims, give assistance to divorced women and single parents and offer different training programmes for women. 'In Asian countries we are still influenced by Confucian thinking. We need to break through many cultural barriers to achieve sexual equality. Our role is to raise women's consciousness of women's issues and their existing social status,' she said. Ms Wong derives great satisfaction from her work. 'I am doing my job in a very stimulating environment. I have interest and commitment to the women and I hope to develop their potential,' she said. After graduating from Hong Kong Baptist College in 1987, Ms Wong first worked as a social worker for Caritas' family service where she helped rehabilitated drug addicts re-integrate into family life. 'I helped the women to support and accept their husbands. Otherwise, the husbands would only get worse,' Ms Wong said. But at the same time, she could see the woman being sacrificed in the interest of the man as they struggled to be the family caretaker and look after a dysfunctional husband. It was this that inspired her interest in women's issues. 'It was my contact with grassroots women, and my sharing of their plight which turned me into a feminist,' Ms Wong said. 'According to traditional thinking, a woman should not divorce her husband, she must tolerate him. She has no individual needs and must submit herself to family needs. 'But if a woman's needs are being fulfilled and she has more choices, she will build a happier family. When her needs are suppressed, she gets depressed and the family suffers,' she said. Ms Wong said there is a widely-held misconception that feminism is a male-bashing term. 'Feminism sees both men and women as human beings who have dignity and are unique. 'In reality, a woman is always made the target of discrimination and placed in a subordinate role to a man. We feminists hope to eliminate the structural discrimination against women.' There are different forms of structural discrimination, for example, women being portrayed as sex objects in liquor advertisements. 'As for sexual harassment in the office, is it the fault of the boss or the company which has no policy regarding sexual harassment?' Ms Wong said. ' Because of the structure of the company, the boss can make use of such a loophole to harass a woman. 'People may dislike the boss for such behaviour but they don't think of the fact that there is no existing legislation to protect a woman from sexual harassment. To fight for legislation, we need to raise the awareness of women about this, ' Ms Wong said. Her work has made her aware of what she wants in her personal life as well. Feminism helps her resolve many issues in her marriage, for example, whether she should have children. 'People think a perfect family should include children. If they have children, their ancestors' name will carry on. The family can gain more housing allowance and be assigned to larger public housing. 'But I don't think like that. I ask myself what my needs are. Are we ready to have kids? I critically examine traditional beliefs to see whether they are rational and fulfil my needs. In this way I can understand more about myself and my personal needs. 'Besides, my husband I both have full-time careers. Our decision on whether we should have kids should be based on our life plan,' Ms Wong said. Feminism challenges the traditional belief that man is strong and woman is weak another justification for the man going out to work and the woman staying at home, Ms Wong said. 'This is unfair to both men and women. The man is the breadwinner of the family. His wife depends on him. Even though he is under a lot of pressure, he must suppress his emotions. 'Also, if the woman always relies on the man, she cannot fend for herself when there is a crisis in the family. If the husband has an extra-marital affair, the woman, who cannot be financially independent, must stay in a painful, marital relationship. 'Feminism made me see my husband's feminine side and appreciate it. He can be very gentle, considerate and patient. Both men and women have an emotional side and we should be able to freely express it,' Ms Wong said. If Ms Wong has children, she will not deprive them of opportunities to develop as they wish. 'If my boy likes dolls, I'd let him play with dolls. If my girl likes cars, she can play with them,' Ms Wong said. In the past 10 years, she feels the women's movement in Hong Kong has changed a great deal and made great strides. 'We have a direct election political system so more women can participate in it. Women have more opportunities to receive higher education. The whole women's movement has made progress. 'Before, we were fighting for more obvious issues, such as a war on rape. Now we are focusing on subtle discrimination, how people think women provoke rape by the way they dress, sexual jokes, women as sex objects and the division of labour at home.' She believes the Government has always assigned women's issues a low priority. 'We still lack a women's commission to look into women's issues. Such a commission could gather and analyse gender-sensitive statistics so we could have a clearer picture of women's changing needs and demands,' she said. For Ms Wong, being a feminist is a life-long struggle in an often uncomprehending and hostile world; a struggle she knows is hard to maintain. 'I am now in a favourable environment to be a feminist. But if I step out of this field, I do wonder if I will be able to persist in my feminist beliefs and not let convention overwhelm me,' she said.