By Liu Yiqing, People’s Daily
To help more rural women find jobs or start their own businesses, northeast China’s Jilin province has implemented free training programs to train them in handicraft skills and e-commerce skills.
After participating in the training programs, an increasing number of women in rural areas gained practical skills, found jobs, and witnessed steady growth in their income.
Shao Mingshuang, a resident in Nanshandao village, Jilin city, Jilin province, has learned straw plaiting skills at a training session. “I usually use more red threads so that the small basket looks more festive,” Shao said, sharing her experience in handicraft making.
“I can earn more than ten yuan (about $1.54) for each basket I make. Thanks to the training, I’m able to make a living with my skills,” Shao added happily.
When she was little, Shao broke her spine and has since been disabled. She often feels pain in the cervical and lumbar vertebrae, and her upper body can’t stretch up straight. Because of her physical condition, Shao had difficulty finding a job.
After her husband died, Shao had no source of income and merely lived on subsistence allowance from the government and the money from the transfer of her land-use right to others and sewing clothes for neighbors.
At that time, She only earned about 5,000 yuan a year and was so poor that she couldn’t afford to buy new clothes for years.
In August 2016, the women’s federation and disabled persons’ federation of Jilin National High-tech Industrial Development Zone got in touch with Shao to inform her that she could learn straw plaiting skills at a free training session held in Chaijia village, a village near Shao’s hometown. She was also told that besides training people in handicraft skills, the training session even provided free materials, meals and accommodation for participants.
Shao watched with interest how participants at the training session turned corn leaves into exquisite handicrafts. “The training was perfect for me, as the skills don’t require much physical strength and I can finish the work at home,” she said.
Based on her sewing experience, Shao soon became skilled at straw plaiting. With the technique, she can now earn about 1,000 yuan more a month than before.
While benefiting from the straw plaiting training session, Shao also consulted workers at the local disabled persons’ federation about other kinds of training courses.
Over the past five years, Shao has participated in training courses on paper-cutting, Chinese knot, embroidery, calligraphy and other handicraft skills. “Although I have just learned the basic techniques, my horizons have been broadened because of these incredible crafts,” Shao noted.
In recent years, Jilin province has carried out such training courses across the province, asking women’s federations at all levels to invite handicraftsmen to teach rural women and unemployed women in urban areas for free.
Taking advantage of local natural resources and folk culture, the province has organized training courses on over 20 kinds of handicrafts, including straw plaiting, matryoshka doll painting and resin craftwork making, benefiting over 60,000 people.
To help sell the handicrafts, Jilin province has adopted an order-based training model, under which enterprises place orders for handicrafts from training bases before training sessions and women make relevant products according to the orders after receiving training.
It is estimated that since it was launched, the handicraft skills training program has enabled over 80,000 women to either start up businesses or work at home, bringing them an average annual income of over 5,000 yuan each. So far, the sales of handicrafts produced under the program have exceeded 400 million yuan.
Together with the commerce bureau of Jilin city, women’s federation in Jilin city has also rolled out a training program on online marketing and other Internet-related skills. Meanwhile, they have also made efforts to help women open online stores and provide e-commerce beginners with places, facilities and warehouses free of charge as well as logistics services at below market price.
So far, Jilin city has trained about 1,200 e-commerce practitioners under the program. Many rural women have combined e-commerce with handicraft making, with more and more rural women leveraging live-streaming to promote their products.