Women in rural China are playing bigger roles in their homes and communities, said Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao.
The stereotype that Chinese women in the countryside are uneducated and obedient is no longer true, Wen said at a national conference awarding model women for a campaign initiated by the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) to promote science and technology among women in the countryside.
"Many of them have not only improved their own lives with their knowledge and wisdom, but have also become the leaders of their hometown," he said.
Zhang Xingzhi, a woman running a lucrative artificial flower plant in Zhaodong, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, is a perfect example.
After providing for her family, she started, in co-operation with the local women's federation, a training base for women to make artificial flowers. Altogether 3,800 women have taken part in her training, some of whom have successfully started their own businesses.
As a result, the artificial flower business in Zhaodong scored a total annual output value of 3.5 million yuan (US$423,000) last year, with most of the flowers exported to countries including the United States, Japan and Republic of Korea.
ACWF statistics say 163,000 such training bases were established across the country in the past three years, in addition to over 60,000 schools for women in the countryside.
"Through this effort, 5.37 million women in the countryside have learned to read and write in the past three years, while 650,000 such women have won technical certificates," said ACWF official Liu Yana.
(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2002)