Ever since the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its 18th National Congress, the CPC Central Committee with President Xi Jinping as the core has highlighted the issue of poverty alleviation in his political ideology when it comes to governing the country.
In November 2015, President Xi made a keynote speech at a CPC Central Committee conference on poverty alleviation and development.
In December, the CPC Central Committee and State Council issued a plan for winning the battle against poverty, followed by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF)'s thorough implementation of the central authorities' guidelines and strategies for women's poverty alleviation campaigns.
Over the course of a year, ACWF's careful planning and active deployment, together with various events carried out by women's federations at different levels, have signaled a good start for the women's poverty alleviation campaigns. This also serves as a solid foundation for progressing the nation's latest draft of the 13th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2016-2020).
Spotlight on Women's Poverty Alleviation Initiatives
Women are not only the major targets, but also important participators in the nation's poverty alleviation campaigns.
By the end of 2015, China was facing a serious reality and challenge, as women accounted for 46.5 percent of the relevant recorded campaign documents.
2016 marked the first year of the campaign. Helping women to escape poverty is an important part of protecting women's rights of living and development, especially in building a comprehensively well-off society.
ACWF's Party leadership group and the Secretariat attached great importance to the relief work and issued a guideline about the women's poverty alleviation campaign that has been incorporated into the national event as well. According to the ACWF guidelines, seven major tasks have been highlighted in terms of women's determination, capabilities, entrepreneurship, handicrafts, self-assistance, health, and philanthropy. The ACWF also called on nationwide women's federations at various levels to assist underprivileged women in the nation's building of a well-off society.
So far, women's federations across China's 24 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities have issued local guidelines.
The ACWF has focused on surveys and top-level design when taking the lead in advancing the relevant initiatives with power and force.
Shen Yueyue, vice-chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) and president of the ACWF, visited the nation's remote regions many times in order to promote local women's poverty alleviation work.
Shen addressed a symposium attended by women's federation officials from northwest China's Qinghai Province at four levels —province, city, county, and village. Shen urged officials to thoroughly implement the work spirit laid out at the CPC Central Committee Work Conference on Mass Organizations and CPC Central Committee Conference on Poverty Alleviation and Development.
Moreover, Shen urged the grassroots women's federations to promote targeted poverty alleviation activities, especially offering appropriate assistance to disadvantaged women.
Later, Shen visited the city of Longnan, northwest China's Gansu Province, where she attended the National Women's Poverty Alleviation Campaign and made a keynote speech.
Song Xiuyan, vice-president and first member of the Secretariat of the ACWF, conducted grassroots inspection tours after attending the CPC Central Committee Conference on Poverty Alleviation.
Song mapped out and deployed the strategic guidelines for women's poverty alleviation campaigns, especially focusing on targeting work concerning women.
The ACWF, the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, Ministry of Agriculture, and other departments have jointly issued documents concerning subsidized microcredit scheme, creating relevant campaign records for underprivileged women, and e-commerce enterprises' targeted initiatives for poverty relief.
According to these projects, it is essential to increase training sessions for impoverished women, who would be further supported by a series of concrete measures to boost their employment.
Women's federations in remote and disadvantaged areas have organized a total of 39 exemplary training sessions, directly benefiting over 3,500 trainees to develop skills in handicraft weaving, household services, and e-commerce industries.
The federation also established 186 National Women's Pilot Projects to Alleviate Poverty across the nation after investing a total of 9.3 million yuan (U.S.$ 1.35 million).
Moreover, the federation also took advantage of online platforms to promote women's innovation and startups after collaborating with Alibaba, Haier Group, and Yiwu Industrial and Commercial College.
Other initiatives about alleviating women's poverty conditions included attending the China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair, National Women's Household Service Contest, and pilot projects in rural villages.
In terms of health assistance, investment in specific funds, including the fund for impoverished mothers and helping those with cervical or breast cancers, has been increased from 100 million yuan ((U.S.$ 14.5 million) to 300 million yuan (U.S.$ 43.5 million).
According to the standard of 10,000 yuan (U.S.$ 1,453) per capita, these funds have benefited 30,000 disadvantaged women to achieve poverty relief.
Among them, 15,863 women have been recorded in relevant campaign documents, further ensuring anyone who declares their status can be better assisted.
By the end of 2016, the central lottery public interest fund had invested 700 million yuan (U.S.$ 101.7 million) in the relief work.
Including the social funds raised by the ACWF, this monetary sum has added up to assist 71,696 impoverished women.
The China Women's Development Foundation and the China Children and Teenagers' Foundation have promoted their projects as well, for example, Water Cellars for Mothers, Health Express for Mothers, Spring Bud Project, and Happy Homes for Children.
Women's federations are urged to establish a statistical system during targeted poverty alleviation initiatives, especially among 832 poverty-stricken counties where regularly scheduled statistics and analysis could assess a campaign's participation rate and benefit conditions, thus improving the efficacy of the women's campaign.
Statistics indicate that women's federations at various levels have collected a multitude of policies and resources so that 608,000 women have increased their incomes and another 3.67 million women and children have escaped poverty.
In October 2016, ACWF organized a live promotional meeting about women's poverty alleviation activities in northwest China's Gansu Province.
Officials were urged to implement the CPC Central Committee spirit; summarize and promote successful experiences; work out a deployment plan in order to make solid progress in advancing the country's "Two Centenary Goals"; and, realize the "Chinese Dream" of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Reform and Innovation in Progressing Targeted Poverty Alleviation Initiatives
Women's federations across the country were urged to take advantage of the reform opportunity and implement seven major tasks involved in targeted campaigns concerning poverty alleviation among women.
Mothers' Talking Group is a team to promote the policies of startups and poverty relief with various local dramas in the county of Tianlin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Statistics reveal that nationwide women's federations have organized 250,000 promotional seminars; issued 9.38 million relevant campaign leaflets; attracting 3.7 million poverty-stricken women, and boosting their confidence and resolution to fight against poverty.
Women's federations have made use of various training styles to promote plantations, rural tourism, household services, handicrafts, and e-commerce at the grassroots level. These activities have attracted 870,000 women to attend 12,000 sessions, and further encouraged 1.74 million women to make a difference after taking part in government-organized training sessions.
Developing the handicrafts industry among poverty-stricken villages or households should take into account local conditions, which has been incorporated into the guidelines to eradicate poverty as issued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.
Women's federations across the nation are urged to develop local advantageous industries suitable for women, especially those combining regional characteristics, cultural features, and ethnic qualities.
A total of 919 women's handicrafts associations have been founded among the nation's 832 poverty-stricken counties, which has in turn fostered 1,123 local handicraft enterprises as well as enabled 390,000 impoverished women to take on flexible employment.
The brand of Jilin Net Sisters has helped local women to increase their wealth in northeast China's Jilin Province. Village-level service platforms have been established across the province, together with 200 service stations, thus increasing local online store usages rates by up to 100 percent. Among them, 70 percent of such shops have added service categories focusing on third-party sale, purchase, payment, and delivery services. In this way, 17 poverty-stricken villagers have achieved breakthroughs in their rural collective economy.
Longnan Women's Federation in Gansu Province makes good use of online platforms to develop the local economy, after spreading the successful experiences of retail stores to further shops. Such an outstanding store is expected to boost the economy of the whole village.
Online shopping enables impoverished women to develop their own e-commerce business at home. Nationwide women's federations have developed advantageous industries to boost women-involved industries, such as, household services and e-commerce. These initiatives have assisted 280,000 disadvantaged women to achieve "transferred" employment, and another 164,000 women to increase their annual revenues from e-commerce.
Meanwhile, grassroots women's federations collaborate with each other in increasing complementary strengths, and work together to explore new approaches in progressing targeted poverty relief work.
With scientific and educational advantages, Beijing Women's Federation cooperated with the women's federation in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region by jointly launching a series of activities to boost women's innovation and development and with the ultimate aim of building a well-off society. They also joined efforts in women's poverty relief initiatives in the prairie so that the region could achieve industrialized improvement.
The Unique Role of Women's Federations
Statistics have shown that women's federations at various levels have launched women's startup loans at the value of 50.22 billion yuan (U.S.$ 7.3 billion) in 2016, leading 607,700 women to achieve business success.
Moreover, women's federations and local poverty relief offices have jointly issued micro credit loans worth 40.86 billion yuan (U.S.$ 5.94 billion), increasing the wealth of 568,000 women who were recorded in relevant campaign documents.
The women's federation in north China's Hebei Province has taken advantage of its local regional characteristics in assisting the nation's severely poverty-stricken counties. After attending local training sessions, impoverished women are encouraged to promote brainstorming capabilities, innovation, and further increase their wealth. Later, many of them have benefited from developing local household handicrafts, thus achieving the win-win benefits of shaking off poverty and embracing development.
In the county of Zanhuang, which is an old revolutionary area in Hebei, a household handicrafts service station has been established in a local village – Yuan Village Homespun Cloth Specialized Farmer Cooperatives. This innovative collaboration model involves collectives, enterprises, bases, households, and impoverished women. In this way, women are encouraged to work on colored cotton plantations where they harvest, manufacture, and later sell the products in the market. Nowadays, over 3,000 impoverished women across 17 villages who have been recorded on relevant local campaign documents have increased their annual revenues from 8,000 to 20,000 yuan (U.S.$ 1,163 – 2,908).
The women's federation in central China's Henan Province has extended targeted poverty relief work to specific services, including brand costumes, handicrafts, plantations, e-commerce and agriculture entertainment. In 2016, Henan founded over 20,000 "Capable Wives" projects, involving more than 600,000 women.
Women's federations at various levels are urged to change their working styles and better serve people at the grassroots level, which have been incorporated into the federation's combined efforts of reform and poverty relief work.
More and more women are expected to unite around the women's federations; play active roles in poverty alleviation initiatives; and, further improve themselves, their households, and even their whole lives. Relying on their own industrious work can bring people wealth in return.
Under the leadership of the ACWF, women's federations at various levels are urged to promote women's poverty alleviation initiatives after combining the federation's reform, innovation, and the working style of serving people.
Hence, more disadvantaged women will closely unite around the CPC, which implies the CPC has consolidated the foundation of women from the general population.
Moreover, various levels of women's federations are urged to lead women in escaping poverty and officials are encouraged to fulfill their job responsibilities in serving the people.
Besides, more concrete efforts are needed so that women from the general population can gain a better understanding of the federation's service, together with the CPC and government’s support, thus increasing their confidence, independence and courage.
(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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