#PressforProgress: Marcia Ellis

Marcia Ellis is a partner in our Hong Kong office and co-head of the firm’s Asia Private Equity practice. She focuses her practice on private equity transactions and complex mergers and acquisitions involving companies and assets located in Asia.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I didn’t have any personal experience with International Women’s Day until I went to work in China for the first time in 1987. At that point, International Women’s Day still maintained some of its roots in the struggle for women’s rights in China. In 1987, in Hubei Province where I taught English for a year, it wasn’t unheard of to see older women with feet that had been damaged by foot binding and thus it was abundantly clear that women have achieved significant progress since 1949.

Although International Women’s Day in China has now been converted into the Chinese equivalent of a “Hallmark” holiday on which husbands give wives presents there is still a lot of progress to celebrate.

Because of the one-child policy, families with one daughter must place all of their hopes and dreams and expend their efforts, on their one child. Families will want her to enjoy equal rights once she has become an adult. In many ways, our confident and well-educated female associates from China are a product of this policy.

Describe a way that you’ve seen a colleague at MoFo press for progress.

I see female associates, counsel, and partners in the Hong Kong office press for progress virtually every day. They work hard to win the respect of clients and colleagues for what they are—great lawyers—and not have their value determined by the fact that they are women. This daily struggle is not the sort of attention-grabbing activity for which women might receive plaudits, but is, in my opinion, the work that will result in real change over time.

What woman most inspires you, and why?

Many women inspire me, but the one who inspires me the most at the moment is my oldest daughter, Nathalie. Nathalie is a theatremaker living in New York City. She is extremely brave and a fount of creativity.

Her latest project, SCUM, is based on the works of Valerie Solanas (who shot Andy Warhol and wrote the SCUM Manifesto) and Carolyn Sapp (Miss America 1992, a victim of domestic violence and the author of a how-to book for beauty pageant contestants). Nathalie’s ability to write, act, direct, produce, and inspire her colleagues to work together to produce great theatre never ceases to amaze me.