Shaanxi Research Association for Women and Family

October 18, 2011  Editor: Sarah Wang

Established in 1986, Shaanxi Research Association for Women and Family (SRAWF) is a non-profit, non-governmental women's corporate organization comprising 128 members, including 24 full-time workers and more than 140 volunteers.

The SRAWF has brought into effect 90 or more projects, large and small, carried out research on the topic, "Focus on women's development, facilitate gender equality," and organized various philanthropic activities to help women. The SRAWF has also formulated a mission statement that combines action and theory. It is one of the country's most influential NGOs.

The SRAWF's main goals upon establishment were to promote theoretical research on women and to hold seminars and training courses. Influenced by the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 and the International Women's Movement. the SRAWF began in the mid-1990s to shift its focus from research to action, and to become proactive in actual women's issues. The SRAWF's long-term practice has focused on the specific areas of rural community and women's development; women's rights and legal aid; social gender advocacy and training; and anti-domestic violence and tutorship.

Since 1996, the SRAWF has been committed to supporting development in poverty-stricken areas. It has organized 60 or more projects at a total investment of 27 million yuan (US$4.24 million) in such fields as livelihood, health, environment, community organization, capacity building, comprehensive community development, disaster reduction and prevention, and women's participation in the management of state affairs. Those projects have benefited ten poor counties in Shaanxi Province, including Danfeng, Ningxia, Ziyang, Shanyang, Yichuan, Qianyang, Xixiang, Zhen'an, Heyang, Zhenba, as well as Helan and Pengyang in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

They have considerably improved the work and living environment of rural women residents; expanded opportunities to gain and use resources has also enhanced their capacity to participate in development and help bring substantial improvements to the lives of local residents.

In November 2005, the SRAWF was invited to take part in the China Charitable General Assembly held by the Ministry of Civil Affairs on behalf of non-governmental organizations. In February 2006, the SRAWF became one of the first NGOs to win the bid to "cooperate with the government in carrying out poverty relief projects at the village level" with the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. SRAWF projects participating in the "China's Development Marketplace" New Concept Project Selection Contest, jointly held by the World Bank, State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, were invited to take part in the Beijing Projects Exhibition.

The SRAWF opened its first nationwide provincial-level public-service women's hotline in September 1996. It has since taken a total 6,823 calls from 28 provinces and cities. Having founded the first service center dedicated to providing legal aid for women in the northwest, the SRAWF has also gone all out to disseminate legal knowledge, safeguard women's rights and offer free legal aid to needy women. The service center has received a total 5,998 women, answered 2,998 legal consultation calls, and set up a women and children's rights-protection workstation in impoverished Shangluo in southern Shaanxi Province. The center (including the workstation) provides legal aid to a total 224 impoverished women in disadvantaged situations.

May 2001 saw the center's launch of the first nationwide "anti-domestic violence prevention and counseling hotline," which has since taken a total 3,122 calls, given counselling to 1,069 individuals, and provided emergency help and protection to more than 50 women/children victims of domestic violence. The service center has held 15 Women's Support Group sessions that have given 140 women advice on how to protect themselves from and deal with violence. The center has also worked with other government departments and NGOs to expand its social support.

In 2004, the center established a cooperative relationship with Xi'an Women's Federation, conducted more than 20 training courses and lectures for Xi'an women cadres and judicial personnel on social gender and anti-domestic violence, and promoted the establishment of a zero domestic violence community in Beilin district. In March 2005, the center launched a "women's health hotline" and "marriage and family hotline". The SRAWF now offers women the most comprehensive services of any NGO in China.

The SRAWF proactively advocates social gender awareness and promotes the social gender mainstreaming process. It edited and published the Social Gender and Development in China: Retrospect and Prospect, Social Gender and Reproductive Health series, launched the periodical Focus, and has visited 29 regions including Taiwan.

In 2000, the SRAWF launched its internal systemization, formulated its first five-year strategic plan under the direction of experts, and set up and regularly reviewed its laws and regulations. In 2005, it employed foreign experts to evaluate the first five-year strategic plan, and the same year formulated the second five-year strategic plan, the specific contents as follows:

1. Improve women's ability to acquire and use resources and participate in development. Meanwhile, reduce their vulnerability to poverty and ill health.

2. Pay attention to the difficulties and barriers confronting rural women in basic level administration so as to enhance their influence on social affairs.

3. Continue to provide professional services to women whose rights are infringed, strengthen collaboration and communication among related organizations, and expand the social support system.

4. Broaden the forms and fields of social gender training and public education, build a technology platform, and advance the social gender mainstreaming process.

5. Continue to improve organization construction and to explore and establish a sustainable local development pattern for NGOs.

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