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Program Benefits Women

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 Gansu Province - and won.

Badi Foundation is a nonprofit organization in China's Macao Special Administrative Region. Beginning in 2003, the foundation and the northwestern 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 society.

One of the poorest provinces in China, Gansu registered about 1.69 million people under the absolute poverty line, 637 yuan (US$77) per person a year. As a whole, China reported 29 million people in dire poverty in 2003.

Gansu has tried many poverty alleviation programs, but has found that providing training that targets rural women has better results.

"The majority of people living in villages are women about 38 or around 60 or above 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 cooperation with other underdeveloped areas in 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 to train rural women on how to do high-quality housekeeping and the basic living skills in cities.

The training has paid off remarkably. Hu Shuping, Li Honglian, Cao Guimei and seven other women villagers had believed they would spend their lives farming for a living. After training, 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 train 146 rural women.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2004)

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