Han Xiaoqin, president of the joint women's federation at Daquangou village, northwest China’s Gansu Province, says her life has been made easier since the introduction of a coordinated scheme to help local people find work.
"Local women used to come to me individually looking for a job, but now it is organized in an orderly manner with the help of the women's federations across several villages," she says.
Daquangou is located in a pastoral area of Sunan Yugur Autonomous County. It has a small population dispersed over a large land.
As part of the reform of grassroots women's federations, Sunan took steps to address local conditions, taking farmers and herdsmen into account.
For starters, the county government changed administrative boundaries and embraced other less-developed villages to establish a joint women's federation, helping women develop better together.
Han was elected as president of the joint women's federation in the reform of Daquangou.
Located near Qilian Mountain, Daquangou features a high altitude, a low temperature and a lack of transport. Villagers mainly live by making animal products and farming the grassland.
Men who live there will often leave to look for work during the slack season, while women typically stay at home, caring for small farmlands, in addition to a few cattle and sheep.
Han started a small business despite her family’s opposition several years ago. She produced hand-made embroidery, inspired by the travel boom in the nearby Mati Tibetan town.
She met a financial setback in 2011, but with the help of a guaranteed small loan from the women's federation, her career took a favorable turn. Han set up a cooperative association in 2012 and registered a company in 2015.
At present, the association is responsible for processing and production, while the company deals with design and sales. There are no other factories or ways to make money, so Han's embroidery association has attracted a lot of women from nearby villages.
"Normally, women only do housework at home and never step outside the door in our village. However, when my family saw that our neighbor's wife had earned money from Han's association, they no longer opposed my working there," a female worker told China Women's News.
It is easy to understand why women would like to work in the association. They used to ask their husbands for pocket money, but now they make money by themselves at home.
In the association, women in unified folk costume work on an assembly line. Some are stitching components on sewing machines, some are assembling embroidered products and some are filling pillows.
About 10 local women are on a fixed work schedule. More women do embroidery at home and are paid according to technical content, labor division and the amount of work they do.
"I can earn 20,000-30,000 yuan (U.S.$ 3,108-4,662) a year at home. Many other local women also do embroidery at home, which is organized by our joint women's federation," said Yang Fucun, a female worker at the plant.
Yang, president of a women's federation at a nearby village, said she also helped to train or organize other local women to do embroidery at home. Nearly 300 women in all the local villages under the joint women's federation are participating, according to statistics.
In just a few years, Han has managed to employ 1,200 so-called “left-behind” women in the area and accumulated 1,400,000 yuan (U.S.$ 217,560) in earnings, which has greatly increased local women's income.
Through the association, Han also trained over 4,500 women with the Skilled Hand of Long Yuan course.
"Under the guidance of the joint women's federation, more orderly training and organization improved our association and company's development. I hope we can do better and make more women write their own brilliant stories in the future!" added Han.
(Source: China Women's News / Translated and edited by Women of China)
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