China Focus: Ethnic minority women play big role in political and social development

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BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- During the ongoing "two sessions," female lawmakers and political advisors of ethnic minorities have made significant contributions as China continues to pursue high-quality economic and social development this year.

In the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the 13th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), there are 742 female deputies and 440 female members respectively, marking a historic high for female representation.

Women, many from ethnic minorities, are playing a big role in China's national legislature and top advisory body, as they contribute their wisdom and strength to almost every sector of society.

"I used to hope that all the women in the village could wear high-heeled shoes freely, and have a bright and nice square for dancing even after dark," said Zhao Huijie, Party secretary of Xiaomiaozi Village in the city of Chifeng in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

As an NPC deputy of the Manchu ethnic group, Zhao knows the importance of development in the village. She has established cooperatives and expanded planting scales among villagers to increase their incomes.

Scores of distinctive cooperatives have been set up so far, increasing the average annual income for villagers to 14,000 yuan (about 2,100 U.S. dollars).

Last year, 100 street lamps, another 5.5 km of cement roads and a public square were added to the village.

"Now, women in the village won't sprain their ankles while walking in high heels. The square is always packed with people dancing," she said.

The percentage of ethnic-minority women in China is small but their power is infinite, Zhao said.

Long Xiaohua, head of Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in central China's Hunan Province, shares Zhao's thoughts.

"Ethnic-minority women play an important part in the battle against poverty," she said.

As a member of the Miao ethnic group, she knows only too well how creative and powerful women can be. Miao women are known for their handicrafts and diligence.

"We have planned to build 48 new anti-poverty workshops for local specialties such as embroidery and traditional clothing by 2020, with over 80 percent of employees being women," she said.

Political advisor Shi Hong, also from the prefecture, is a member of the Tujia ethnic group.

Shi, the chairwoman of the prefecture's association of industry and commerce, said her primary obligation is to help promote processed products for local private enterprises.

In 2018, she helped a dozen private enterprises sell their products to Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province.

"Now, women in my ethnic area have higher status. They can work for the government, or run their own businesses. Decades ago, they were not allowed to have dinner at the same table with men," Shi said.

The government work report Premier Li Keqiang made Tuesday mentioned that the government would promote further development and opening up in western China, which included Shi's hometown.

"We are looking forward to the new policies and measures," Shi said.

Kelsang Drolkar, from Tibet Autonomous Region, has been focusing on the urban low-income population in Lhasa this year in her suggestion to the National People's Congress.

"Besides rural residents, poor urban residents, especially the unemployed and old, also need attention from the government to help them live better," she said.

Having been a village Party secretary for over 40 years, she said her job has brought her a sense of achievement by solving problems, big and small, for her fellow villagers.

Over the past few years, she has submitted suggestions concerning old town protection, rural medical care, heating and gas supply -- all about people's livelihood.

"I kept submitting the same suggestion until it was solved, and then I moved onto the next," she said.

"I have paid attention to issues concerning children's education and health care, especially children living in ethnic minority regions," said political advisor Hu Guozhen, vice governor of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

She was impressed by this year's government work report, which specifically mentioned that "we.... need to work hard to provide education that our people are happy with to do justice to our hope for tomorrow."

Hu has submitted six proposals, four of which are aimed at improving the education and health conditions of children from poverty-stricken ethnic areas in Guizhou.

Deputy Narantuyaa, an ethnic Mongolian from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has also been focusing on education issues.

She said, "As a mother myself, I know how important my role is for my family. So, I strongly suggest to improve the level of parenting and provide more support to mothers who play a significant part in it."

Besides poverty relief and education, ethnic women have also dedicated themselves to other traditionally men-dominated fields, such as the oil industry.

Adalet Ezes is a petroleum scientist in Karamay, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. She has been experimenting in the oilfield for 22 years and pioneered multiple development missions of exploratory wells.

"It's a privilege to follow my father's path as an oil worker. As an NPC deputy, I feel obliged to stimulate more people around me to strive for a better future for our city," she said. Enditem

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