Women officials play bigger role at grassroots level

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 8, 2018
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Zhu Cailing, 50, thinks her work is making a difference, though she has had her share of disappointments as a female village official.

In 2013, Zhu was elected director of the Village Committee of Houwan Village, Dingxi City, in northwest China's Gansu Province, making her the first female village chief in Houwan.

"At first, some villagers were skeptical of what a female official could do for them," Zhu recalled.

She realized that to win people's trust, she must earn it.

When Zhu took up her post, 22 households lived in homes that were in a state of disrepair. Renovating the old houses was her first endeavor.

Filling application forms and preparing all the needed documents, Zhu took on the work by herself to get subsidies from higher-level governments.

Her hard work paid off when town authorities approved subsidies of 220,000 yuan (about 34,800 U.S. dollars) for an old house renovation project in the village.

From 2014 to 2017, a total of 83 dilapidated houses were renovated. Seeing the new houses being built, the villagers began to have faith in Zhu.

"I am not worried anymore that my house will collapse one day. I feel my life has bright prospects," said villager Jing Jiang.

Every year, Zhu cycles a total of around 1,800 kilometers between her home and the town government to deal with a range of issues for villagers.

"Applying for government subsidy projects and mediating disputes are trivial things I can do for villagers," said Zhu. "Gaining their trust cannot be achieved through empty words but must be carried out step by step."

Building roads and trust

Zhang Chunling was appointed Communist Party secretary of Chuangjiacha Village, also of Dingxi City, in 2007.

"At first, I did not believed in her. How could an ordinary rural women run a village?" said Zuo Tingyuan, Zhang's husband.

At that time, Chuangjiacha was ranked last among 14 villages in Ningyuan Town on infrastructure construction, poverty relief and environmental protection.

The main road from the village to the town was muddy and bumpy when rain and snow hit the mountain village.

Fixing the road became the top priority for Zhang.

She took every chance to ask for funds from higher authorities. Since 2015, the village has got more than 4 million yuan, paving not only the road to the town, but also the lanes in the village.

"New asphalt roads have been built to link us with the outside world. It is really convenient for villagers," said Li Keyi, a villager.

In 2016, Chuangjiacha ranked the first among all villages of the town in an comprehensive assessment.

"It is a stereotype that a woman cannot be a good village official," said Zhang. "I believe we can contribute to people's well-being."

Zhu and Zhang are among hundreds of thousands of women to serve as village officials at the grassroots level in China.

According to a government white paper released in 2015 by the State Council Information Office, women accounted for 22.7 percent of the total members of village committees in China in 2013, up 7 percentage points from 2000.

"Female village officials are more approachable to villagers and better at communicating with them," said Sun Shufang, a Communist Party official from Dingxi. "They are playing a bigger role in grassroots governance in China."

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