Working Women: A Powerful Resource for Development - UNDP announce new partnership to promote female entrepreneurship in China

14 Sep 2011

14 September, Beijing — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), China Women's Development Foundation (CWDF) and cosmetic firm, Mary Kay (China) announced today that they would join forces under a new partnership to promote female entrepreneurship among China's ethnic minority women, and empower them to become leaders and decision makers in their own communities and beyond.

The launch ceremony of this new partnership coincided with UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator, Ms. Rebeca Grynspan's official visit to China, and was jointly organised by UNDP, the CWDF (as a subsidiary to the All-China Women's Federation) and Mary Kay (China), to reflect on the past and future of female entrepreneurship worldwide. It was attended by more than 120 senior dignitaries representing each of the three main partners, including Ms. Chen Zhili, President of the All-China Women's Federation, Mr. Paul Mak, President of Mary Kay (China), and Ms. Grynspan of UNDP.

Over the last decade, Mary Kay has forged a strong partnership with the CWDF, and together they have done much to provide female entrepreneurs with the financial and intellectual support they need to excel through the Mary Kay Women's Small Business Fund. UNDP has also established close links with the All-China Women's Federation, however, it will be the first time that all three organisations have worked together in China.

“UNDP is delighted to be partnering with the China Women’s Development Foundation and Mary Kay, to take business opportunities for ethnic minority women to the next level,” Ms. Grynspan said while addressing the event.

Drawing on more than 30 years experience in providing business development opportunities for poor women in China, UNDP will focus its efforts on enhancing the effectiveness of grants provided to ethnic minority women through the Mary Kay Women's Small Business Fund. This will involve providing training to Fund beneficiaries aimed at enhancing their capacities to self-manage and organise their workforces, and generate benefits for entire communities.

“Studies show that employing women raises productivity, adding more to GDP than new jobs for men,” said Grynspan. “Therefore, if China’s development ambitions are to be fully realised, continuing to empower women and enhancing access to opportunities presented by China’s impressive growth is critical. Investing in women is therefore not only the right thing to do, but also smart economics”.

During the event, Mr. Paul Mak, President of Mary Kay (China) also announced that Mary Kay would be donating an additional 6.4 million yuan to the Mary Kay Women's Development Foundation, taking total contributions made by the company to 19.7 million yuan.

“With increased funding, the next 10 years of the China Women’s Development Foundation will help more women in China to develop their careers and improve their lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, as Chairman of the China Women’s Development Foundation, Ms. Huang Qongyi welcomed this contribution and called on the partnership to “deliver further vital support to women’s entrepreneurship and promote women’s development in poor areas of China”.

At present, China's average female wage remains two thirds that of the average male, and while women make up 65 percent of the labour force in rural areas, only one to two percent of local decision-makers are women, according to UNDP's 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report. In addition, female representation in the National People's Congress is said to have lingered at around 21 percent since 1983, while massive gender inequalities are also reflected in social problems like domestic violence and a heavily unbalanced sex ratio.

The launch of this innovative and forward-thinking public-private sector partnership was hosted by Ms. Tian Wei, UNDP Special Advisor and CCTV Anchor, who concluded the event by saying, “ Women hold half of the sky to make a real difference for all!”