Women's federations, at various levels, are links between Chinese women and both the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese Government. In each edition, Women of China publishes an exclusive interview with a leader of a women's federation, to share the individual's understanding of women's cause and to give readers insight into that federation's work.
Baodi, a district in Tianjin, has been the city's commercial center since ancient times. Some 350,000 women live in the district. In recent years, the Women's Federation of Baodi District has provided various training sessions to local women. The women's federation has also helped local women start businesses and, in turn, escape poverty. In turn, the women who have benefited from the federation's efforts have made substantial contributions to the district's economic and social development.
Sun Yamei was named president of the district's women's federation in 2007. "The women's federation is a big platform, which is used to serve local women. Especially, I feel happy because I can help women in trouble solve their problems," says Sun.
In 2015, Sun led the federation's employees in establishing the star-level, beautiful-courtyard activity, through which the federation encouraged women to establish agritainments (village inns, where customers can eat, stay overnight and/or participate in other activities). The federation also helped develop the district's rural tourism industry. During the past year, the federation has held various activities, including the beautiful courtyard photography exhibition, collecting good ideas about energy conservation and emission reduction, families' fun games about garbage classification and courtyard-design competitions. More than 100,000 people have participated in the activities.
"In the future, the district's women's federation will serve women and meet their needs in an innovative way. The federation will encourage women to help build a richer, more environmentally friendly Baodi District, where more locals will be happy and kind to others," Sun told Women of China (WOC).
What must Sun do to ensure she performs well as the federation's president? "The most important thing is to regard women as my relatives. We serve women, and we help them solve their problems, according to their actual demands. We need to let women benefit from our work. Also, we need to motivate workers from social organizations to join in our work … Last, but not least, we must pay more attention to and serve underprivileged women, especially women in rural areas," Sun says.
Q: How did the federation benefit from the 'Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration?'
A: The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration will result in greater job opportunities for women in Baodi District. The federation will offer various training sessions, which will be suitable for women … The federation will help more women find work through making crafts at home, or by offering homemaking services in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. The integration will help expand the family craft-making and vegetable-planting markets, and the eco-breeding industries, in which many women in Baodi are engaged.
Tianjin Women's Federation initiated the activity of establishing beautiful courtyards in 2014. Since 2015, some 40 villages have been selected to develop rural tourism industry. We have motivated women to plant flowers and trees in and around their families' courtyards, to help improve the environment.
Q: How has the federation implemented the activity of establishing beautiful courtyards in rural areas, and the activity of visiting families with good family traditions?
A: The federation in 2015 initiated the activity of establishing star-level beautiful courtyards. The federation has held Hometowns in Your Dreams and Star-level Beautiful Courtyard Transformation, two courtyard-design competitions per year, in the past two years. Nearly 200 postgraduates from the School of Architecture, under Tianjin University, have participated in the design competitions. The designers who won prizes … gave their designs, for free, to families who wanted to transform their houses to "beautiful courtyards." The families … received 3,000 yuan (US $462) as a reward for completing the transformation.
The federation created a good environment for implementing the activity. The federation selected 100 "most beautiful families." The federation established a team, composed of people from the most beautiful families, and the team's members shared their stories about good family traditions with residents of 20 villages. Nearly 10,000 people listened to the speeches, and they discussed good family traditions and family instructions with the team's members.
The federation has encouraged residents to run agritainments. The federation has invited people, skilled at running agritainments, to help locals manage their agritainments. Nearly 300 people have benefited from the training sessions. The federation has also helped locals make better crafts, including scissor-cuts, Chinese lanterns and cloth shoes. So, more travelers are willing to buy such crafts as souvenirs.
Tang Shujing, president of the agritainment's association in Lihuanzhuang, a village in Huangzhuang, a town in Baodi, has run an agritainment with her husband for more than one year. The couple has become rich by working hard. Their agritainment is nearly full of customers every day. They earn more than 20,000 yuan (US $3,077) per month.
Q: How has the federation utilized the women's development circulation fund to help women start businesses and become rich?
A: The federation has raised nearly 500,000 yuan (US $76,923) for the women's development circulation fund. Initially, the federation could only offer 2,000-4,000 yuan (US $308-615) to each woman. Now, we can offer 100,000 yuan to each family. Initially, the federation could only help women in trouble. Now, we can provide funding to women who have started businesses. The fund has helped many women earn money and become rich.
The federation has formulated a "three-step" system to ensure the fund is used in an efficient, normative way. First, the village and town's women's federations examine the conditions of the people who apply for funding. Second, the district's federation inspects and examines applicants' conditions. Third, the village and town's federation act as the applicants' guarantees.
Choosing the right beneficiaries is important … The district's federation insists on choosing families who need the funds the most, who are honest and work hard, or who can motivate others to work hard.
In the past years, the federation has offered 4.65 million yuan (US $715,385) to more than 100 women. The funds have been used to help women run agritainments and establish 59 model bases, including knitting, crop farming and animal breeding bases. Among them, there are two national-level model bases and 13 municipal-level model bases. The federation has helped nearly 15,000 women escape poverty.
(Executive Editor: WEI XUANYI, Women of China English Monthly November 2016 Issue)
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