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.
Jinchang is a city in northwestern China's Gansu Province. It is called China's "nickel capital" because it has an abundance of mineral resources, including nickel and cobalt.
Jinchang's municipal CPC (Communist Party of China) committee and municipal government in recent years have highlighted the development of tourism that features cultural elements in restructuring the city's economy, mainly by promoting the planting of lavender and various other aromatic plants. Jinchang has become known as a "flower city in western China."
In 2015, Jinchang was named a National Civilized City. That honor was bestowed on cities that performed well in economic development, political stability and spiritual civilization. Jinchang became the first city in Gansu Province to win the award.
Women in Jinchang have played their roles in building safe, civilized families, and in maintaining harmony in both their families and neighborhoods.
Pan Huifang, President of Jinchang Women's Federation, has witnessed the "leapfrog development" of Jinchang. Before she was appointed vice-president of the women's federation, in 2000, she was deputy secretary of the Jinchang Municipal Committee of the Communist Youth League. In 2007, she was elected the federation's president.
"Jinchang has 230,000 women and children. As the city's social and economic development has been steady, and as women's qualifications in general have improved, more women have volunteered to take part in programs offered by women's federations. Thus, women's federations, at various levels, must provide good services, and they must be reliable homes to women," Pan says.
As a women's federation's leader, she adds, one must care for others and be kind, patient and confident. "Women's federations' workers should be good mothers, daughters and daughters-in-law. If they have a stable family, they will set examples for other women," Pan says.
During a public activity, held on April 29, 2016, nearly 500 women volunteers planted lavender in a test field in Jinchuan, a district in Jinchang. "Women play a major role in family life, and they are important in forming healthy, civilized lifestyles in families. The planting activity was intended to encourage women to join the local government's efforts to protect the environment, and to develop the city into a livable place," Pan says.
The federation, Pan says, will support the development of Jinchang's tourism, through various projects, and the federation will help promote environmental protection in the city.
Q: What measures has the federation taken to promote the development of the weaving industry?
A: Since 2015, we have offered 20 training courses … on weaving skills. Some 4,000 women in urban and rural areas attended the courses.
Second, we have given guidance to women, who have succeeded in operating weaving businesses, about how to promote Jinchang's culture through their products (such as carpets and knitwear). The women have contributed to Jinchang's economic growth.
Third, we have helped leading craftswomen establish demonstration centers, where they have trained women in weaving skills. The centers have also offered consultation services, on marketing, to women who are in the weaving business.
Fourth, we have organized weaving-business owners to attend several big trade fairs, and we have held a women's arts exhibition. During such events, women's handwoven products have generated a combined income of nine million yuan (US $1.34 million) for the women.
Q: What has the federation done to promote family related programs?
A: We have implemented the Looking for the Most Beautiful Families campaign at Women's Homes in villages and communities. Local newspapers and TV stations have reported on the campaign, and we have published reports about the campaign on our WeChat blog.
We have promoted good family rules and traditions by hosting family themed speech contests, and by compiling stories about the local "most beautiful families" into a book. The purpose of such efforts was the education of people on family virtues and the promotion of core socialist values.
During the past three years, we have held 1,350 meetings, during which residents have shared their family stories and traditions. We have selected 1,100 "most beautiful families," at the city and/or county levels, and we have collected 1,426 items that reflect family rules and traditions.
Q: What has the federation done to help women escape poverty?
A: Since 2015, we have made it a priority to help women escape poverty. We have made efforts to help poor women find work and/or start their businesses, and we have tried to help poverty-stricken families increase their incomes.
Workers from women's federations, at various levels, have visited 654 poverty-stricken women, and the workers have explained the Chinese Government's poverty-alleviation policies to the women. The workers have encouraged impoverished women to fight poverty with confidence and hard work.
Second, the provincial women's federation allocated 140,000 yuan (US $38,806) to our federation, so we could develop women's knitting businesses. The provincial federation also allocated 120,000 yuan (US $17,910) to our federation, so we could develop domestic-service businesses.
We have used some of the funding to conduct 50 courses, to train women in planting, knitting and domestic-service skills. Participants have included housewives, college graduates and farmers who have returned to Jinchang from other places, where they had been migrant workers. We have also offered guidance on entrepreneurship and employment.
Third, we have encouraged women to do jobs or start businesses in various fields. We have established demonstration centers and industrial associations, and employees at those facilities have provided advice and support to women entrepreneurs.
Fourth, we have offered two courses, through which we have offered guidance to 120 poverty-stricken women, whose ages were between 35-55, and who were diagnosed with breast and/or cervical cancer, on physical and psychological recovery. During the courses, we trained the women in entrepreneurship.
Fifth, we used 100,000 yuan (US $14,925), from the special funding, to help 100 elderly widows or needy and single mothers. We also donated money and clothes (worth a combined 100,000 yuan) to 100 needy women who suffered from serious diseases.
Sixth, to better protect women's rights, we strengthened the promotion of laws among women, especially women migrant workers. Women volunteers distributed 10,000 copies of promotional materials at job fairs and during the March 8th Women's Rights-protection Week.
(Executive Editor: LEI YANG, Women of China English Monthly December 2016 Issue)
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