Tan Xiuzhen was once a timid woman who blushed when talking with strangers. But after training from Badi Foundation, she ran for head of her village in Hui County in northwest China's Gansu Province -- and won.
Badi Foundation is a non-profit international organization in Macao Special Administrative Region. Beginning in 2003, the foundation and Gansu Province have been providing personalized training for poor, rural women.
The project empowers rural women to better manage relationships with husbands, mothers- and fathers-in-law and neighbors. It encourages them to participate in social activities, develop personal capacities, improve family life and contribute more to the community and society.
One of the poorest provinces in China, Gansu registered about 1.69 million people under the absolute poverty line, 637 yuan (77 US dollars) per person a year. As a whole, China reported 29 million people in dire poverty in 2003.
Gansu has tried many poverty alleviation program, but now has found that providing training that targets rural women has better results.
"The majority of people living in villages are women are about 38 or the old aged at around 61 since men have migrated to cities for work. It's imperative and effective to provide tailor-made training for women to fight poverty," said Ren Yanshun, deputy-director of Gansu Provincial Aid-the-Poor Office.
The foundation has carried out similar cooperation with two other underdeveloped areas in west China's Shaanxi and Yunnan provinces, Ren said.
Besides Badi Foundation, the province is also cooperating with Beijing Fuping Vocational Training Division, to provide free training for 1,000 poverty-stricken women. Currently, about 900 women villagers have obtained jobs in cities after training.
Beijing Fuping Vocational Training Division was set up for rural women to provide them with training on how to do high-quality housekeeping and the basic living skills in cities.
The training has paid off remarkably. Hu Shuping, Li Honglian, and Cao Guimei and seven other women villagers had believed they would spend their lives farming for a living. After training, however, they showed self-confidence and some opened their own business or started livestock farming, channeling more income to their families, according to feedback interviews by Badi Foundation staff.
Zhang Weiming, deputy-director with Overseas-Funded Anti-Poverty Projects Management Center, said Badi Foundation helped trained 146 rural women. The interviews after the programs showed that the quality of their family life quality had improved. Some women not only took the lead in village activities, but also organized classes to improve literacy among other women or help them tackle troubles.
"Housewives mostly are the axis in families. Their attitudes could wield great power on the husbands and children. Thus it would pay twice the results to provide training for women in fighting poverty, " Zhang said.