Empowering Ethnic Minority Women for Cultural Industrial Development through Community-based Approach
Ethnic minority women in rural China are among China's most vulnerable groups to poverty. They are generally more disadvantaged than men in terms of education, employment, as well as community governance. They are often subject to a division of labor that leaves them with the added responsibility of sustaining their families through productive activities, as well as running the household and caring for children. The heavy workload leaves girls and women with less opportunity for quality education and higher-skill employment.
In particular, impeding their empowerment is a lack of strong community organizations to support collective poverty reduction efforts, the lack of developing market-oriented cultural products and the grasp of market positioning and demand and the lack of necessary commercial operation, market development skills and financing opportunities.
The project aims to empower ethnic minority women and promote their social and economic development by harnessing their unique cultural assets.
By assisting Yi women beneficiaries in the development of cultural industries, in particular traditional embroidered products, the project seeks to facilitate a balanced and equitable economic development, so that women in minority communities can share in the benefits of the social and economic development of the province. This assistance includes strengthening ethnic minority women’s capacity in community organization, business management, and traditional handicraft skills, as well as supporting the creation of microloan schemes to finance business expansion.
This project has enhanced the capacity building of women organizations, workers in women’s federation, local officials and three pilot sites, as well as promoted the development of community–driven cultural industry. It has successfully improved the market competitiveness of Yi embroidery products and Yi women's livelihoods. By the end of 2015, the project has benefited more than 2, 650 people, among which more than 90% are female. The average monthly per capita income brought by Yi embroidery increased from 750 to 1,300 CNY.
It has stimulated the launch of local policies. Four levels of government departments have issued policies, guidance documents and development plan related to the Yi embroidery culture heritage. Local government has set up the special fund for Yi embroidery and preferential policies have been given to embroidery women in loan support, tax reduction or exemption, entrepreneur services and financing aid.
The project has attracted women migrants to return to their hometowns for the Yi embroidery business. This has alleviated the problem of left behind groups including elders and children. Since the launch of this project, 457 women have returned hometowns for Yi embroidery industry, which has allowed for a reunification with 558 left behind groups.