|Seven women are elected as leaders of the village's committee in Loudi, a city in Central China's Hunan Province. [Xinhua Women's Federation]|
During the first half of 2017, residents of Shilong, a 3,000-plus-resident village in Xinhua, a county in Loudi, a city in Central China's Hunan Province, elected seven women to serve as leaders of the village's committee. As a result, all of the village officials are now women. As the women have been proven worthy of the great trust reposed in them, many of the villagers have referred to the women as the village's "backbones."
The village's committee is composed of the secretary of the village's general Party (Communist Party of China) branch, and the committee's director and five members.
The village's officials, whose average age is 30, have played important roles in helping the villagers improve their lives.
|Female village officials help irrigation. [Xinhua Women's Federation]|
In China, it's not uncommon to see a high percentage of men at the managerial level in a village. Shilong's residents elected the women simply because the villagers believed the women were better candidates than the men.
In April 2017, the Party members in the village elected Liu Guihua to serve as secretary of Shilong's general Party branch. Within a short time, the village held its election of members of the village's committee. Surprisingly, all of the seven members elected were women. Both men candidates lost.
"The outcome of the election surprised me. I thought at least one man would be elected member of the committee," says Liu.
"We elected the women ... as we believed they had a stronger sense of responsibility than the men did. Also, the women tended to work in a practical, down-to-earth style," says Zeng Dongcai, a 72-year-old male villager. "Since the male village officials had let us down, why not give the women an opportunity to run the village?"
|Fmale village officials tear out advertisements on the telephone pole. [Xinhua Women's Federation]|
Almost all of the villagers consider the village officials to be outstanding women.
"I feel a sense of responsibility, and pride, that comes with being trusted by the villagers," says 36-year-old Liu, who enjoys a good reputation. She served as the committee's director from April 2011 to April 2017.
Liu and her husband have signed a contract with the village to raise fish and grow rice in a pond on a nearby mountain. Xinhua Women's Federation in 2016 arranged for Liu to attend a lecture to help rural women improve their farming and breeding skills. As she applied what she learned in raising fish and growing rice, Liu and her husband substantially improved the production of both fish and rice.
Unlike Liu, Chen Lamei had never been a village official before last year, when she was elected the committee's director.
After she graduated from a senior middle school in her hometown, Chen went to Dongguan, a city in South China's Guangdong Province, to perform manual labor. Several years later, she and her husband established a plant, which processed woven products, in Dongguan. Unfortunately, theplant fell victim to the global financial crisis in 2008. The couple returned home to start their own business. While she tended her family, Chen helped the villagers process and sell fish.
"My husband encourages me to work hard ... I'm confident that I can do a good job," says Chen.
Many villagers like to chat with Liao Xiaofeng, as the 52-year-old woman is kind and amiable. Before she was elected member of the committee, she had served, during the past decade, as the committee's director and the villager official, who was in charge of family planning initiatives. Liao has gotten rich by growing lotus roots and breeding chicken. She takes delight in serving the villagers.
Wu Qiuhua, 28, is the youngest village official. When a reporter from Women of China recently asked her whether her husband supported her efforts to serve the villagers, the independent, straightforward young woman replied, "As the saying goes, 'Behind every successful man there is a woman.' Likewise, behind every successful woman there is a man."
Like Chen Lajuan, Chen Xiehui and Chen Yizhi, the latter two both in their 40s, were elected village officials for their first time. Chen Xiehui is good at paperwork, and Chen Yizhi does an excellent job in mobilizing villagers to work together to improve the village's environment.
Chen Shan, who is also a member of the committee, spares no effort in popularizing information about China's poverty-alleviation policies. She has organized the village officials to compile files on impoverished villagers, to ensure they maintain accurate records of the residents' personal information.
|A Female village official (C) reads documents for local residents. [Xinhua Women's Federation]|
Running the Village
As the saying goes, "a new broom sweeps clean." Given the tight budget for running the village, the newly elected village officials have made careful plans for and calculations of office expenses. They used their own money to buy a computer and a printer. They also learned how to use the computer, so they didn't have to hire others to create files. In addition, the officials handwrote the characters on their offices' doorplates. As a result, they saved several thousands of yuan in office expanses.
The officials also examined the economic conditions of the residents who applied for the basic living allowance. As a result, 44 of 125 residents were disqualified from receiving the allowance. The officials took pains to explain to the residents why they could not receive the allowance.
In addition, the officials adopted several measures to give the village a new look. For example, they cleaned up the river, so the water would not overflow the riverbed during the rainy season.
Given residents' lack of awareness about the importance of environmental protection, the village, with a dreadful environment, was commonly referred to as the "garbage village." That was before the members of the committee sprung into action. Several months ago, the committee formulated rules to urge the villagers to keep the village clean. The officials enforced supervision over implementation of the rules. Several of the committee's members asked their husbands to use their own trucks to carry garbage to the garbage-collection center. Given the efforts of the officials and the villagers to improve Shilong's environment, the village has become a "garden-like residential zone."
To help the villagers attain wealth, Liu plans to encourage more villagers to grow ratooning rice and raise fish in the paddies.
|Women village officials take part in democratic election. [Xinhua Women's Federation]|
"We'll implement various projects, including building the ridges and water channels in the fields, so fish will not 'slip away' when water overflows the riverbed," says Liu.
The officials have also encouraged villagers to grow various industrial crops, including soybeans and lotus roots, which have a ready market.
Liu recently told Women of China about the officials' plans to implement more than 10 projects, including the provision of safe running water and the establishment of a fish-farming cooperative and a fruit-cultivation base.
"We will work hard to live up to the hope of the villagers, who support us," says Liu. "We'll prove that women are good at both managing their families and running the village."
(Source: Women of China English Monthly January 2018 Issues)