Weaving into Happiness

The Challenge

Although China has made enormous achievements in poverty reduction since economic reforms began back in 1978, progress among ethnic minorities still lags far behind national development standards. Ethnic minority groups account for 9% of Chinese population, yet make up nearly one third of its poor.

Ethnic minority women are being disproportionately disadvantaged, which severely inhibits their ability to engage fully in society and has led to multifaceted exclusion in community decision making process and development.

Ethnic minority women are unable to make the best use of their cultural resources due to:

     (a) Lack of self-development and recognition from the society;

     (b) Lack of income generation skills and access to financial services;

     (c) Lack of marketing skills and business channels. 

The per capita income in Guizhou province is far lower than that of all the other provinces in China. By 2015, there was still a population of 4.93 million living under poverty line. Over thirty percentage of the total population are ethnic minorities. The remaining poor population of Guizhou mainly concentrates in the ethnic minority areas, such as the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture. Due to poverty and geographical isolation, it is common that Qiandongnan’s young labour – especially the male -- work in other more developed areas. Similar to many other ethnic minority regions, the highlighted population in Qiandongnan Autonomous Prefecture appear to be at the intersection of local ethnic minority and left-behind women.

The Response

The objective of the project is to increase the development of cultural industry in ethnic minority areas to empower women and foster’s women’s development. The project aims to establish ethnic women’s community-based organizations (CBOs) with sound institutional structure and sustainable business mechanisms and build partnerships with modern markets and the fashion industry.

The project will enhance capacity building for local government and communities, introduce sustainable business models and promote cultural heritage of ethnic minority groups. Furthermore it will conduct research and public advocacy to promote best practice of the project.

The implementation of the project will significantly contribute to raising public awareness of gender inequality, improving the livelihood of ethnic minority groups - especially women - and creating jobs through cultural-based industry while preserving their cultural heritage. Furthermore it will assist China in lifting 70 million people out of poverty by 2020.

Who finances it?



Donor Amount
UNDP $ 165,030/Year
Guizhou Provincial Government $ 143,320/Year

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