Across China: Poverty-reduction workshops bring new life to ethnic minority women
LANZHOU, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- Bound by lower education levels, traditions and household responsibilities, most ethnic minority women in China's impoverished regions have never dared to think of ways other than farming to help their families gain a better life.
However, with the government campaign to eradicate poverty gathering steam, small manufacturing workshops are bringing jobs to their doorsteps and empowering the women to take new roles in their families.
Ma Xiuping, living in a village in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Gansu Province, could not hide her excitement when recalling the first time she was paid by the factory she started working in.
"I could barely read, and I never imagined I could get a salary like urban workers," said Ma, who is in her 50s.
The rural cooperative Ma works at makes traditional cloth shoes and employs more than 50 impoverished women workers.
In Gansu Province, such poverty-alleviation factories have created jobs for more than 8,000 women who were once trapped working on farms and taking care of all the family chores, and for them, a different life has started.
"Now I don't have to ask my husband for money, which makes me more confident," said the 28-year-old Ma Fatumai who worked at the same workshop with Ma Xiuping. For her first month of work, she earned 1,350 yuan (about 190 U.S. dollars).
For Huang Ayingshe, who works in another poverty-reduction workshop in the prefecture, a job also means more association with the outside world, which she says is "much more fun" than staying at home.
As the deadline to eradicate absolute poverty by 2020 approaches, China is focusing efforts on the nation's poorest people, and Gansu Province is one of the major battlefields.
Answering the central leadership's call for "precision poverty alleviation," which demands tailored policies to suit different local situations, the province seeks to tap the power of women in the battle to wipe out absolute poverty by 2020.
In July, the All-China Women's Federation held a meeting in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, which stressed women's roles in fighting poverty and called on them to contribute their strength.
Official data showed that China lifted 13.86 million people in rural areas out of poverty in 2018, with the number of impoverished rural residents dropping from 98.99 million in late 2012 to 16.6 million by the end of last year.