3rd-5th December, 2016, the Badi Foundation and one of its grassroots-level partners, Lijiang Gucheng Hehe Community Study and Service Center, were invited to participate in China’s Women’s Poverty Alleviation and Development Forum (also known as the second China’s Civil Society Women’s Summit) in Chengdu, Sichuan, and gave a panel sharing.
Since the Fourth United Nations' World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, the third sector in China has achieved a lot in the field of women’s poverty alleviation and development. To reflect appropriately on its gains and losses for the past 21 years would be timely. The year 2016 witnessed the beginning of the 13th Five Year Plan. How to incorporate gender perspectives into the process of development, as well as into the policy “taking targeted measures in poverty alleviation”, appeared as essential questions. Initiated by Gao Xiaoxian, Yang Tuan, Guo Hong, Xie Lihua, Huang Yi, Chen Yimei, Zhai Yan, Liu Xiaogang, Zheng Bing and other pioneers in the field, hosted by the Sichuan Shangming Social Development Research Center and the Marxism School of Xihua University, the China’s Women’s Poverty Alleviation and Development Forum gathered practitioners in the field from across mainland China as well as Taiwan, to discuss the development of impoverished women. After the two-day conference and an on-site visit to a village where Chengdu Urban Rivers Association runs a sustainable agricultural program, the participants co-drafted the Summit Consensus, which emphasized on the importance of the empowerment of impoverished women, and the pivotal role women play in intergenerational poverty alleviation. The Consensus also urged the introduction of relevant policies to support women groups, as well as the timely summary of local experiences from the field.
The Badi Foundation has always focused on the balanced development of rural communities through the empowerment of local populations. Inspired by the value of equality of men and women, and the massive potential of rural women, the Foundation initiated the Environmental Action Program in 2001, with rural women being the target group. Through a series of self-developed study materials, an interactive study method as well as service projects resulting from collective consultation, women participants would gradually change their outdated way of thinking, gaining confidence and independence of thought. They would begin to realize the great potential latent within themselves, and gain courage to release that potential through group consultation and action. Not only does this process promote the development of their own families, but also contributes to the balanced development of their communities. Due to lack of accompaniment during remote executions of the program, the Foundation initiated the Institutional Capacity Building Program in 2005. Individuals from local communities with a willingness to serve are identified, and encouraged to begin their community-based organizations (CBOs) at a grass-roots level. They are supported by the Foundation through seed funding and a system of accompaniment.
As a partner of the Badi Foundation, Lijiang Gucheng Hehe Community Study and Service Center has carried out Environment Action Program aimed at rural women for eight years. The founder of this institution, Guan Xuebao shared his experience at the forum. Through many years of practice, he has realized the importance of capacity building programs in the initial phase of developmental projects. In the process of capacity building, community members gradually understand concepts related to rural community building, such as participation, balanced development and organic growth. This initial understanding later helps them to actively think of ways to serve their own communities and put them into practice. Guan Xuebao also recalled the development process of the program in Baoji village, from the initial training sessions, and the successive collective consultations and service projects, until local facilitators began to emerge, who led the collective exploration of economic initiatives. This process of organic growth has helped community members take ownership and responsibility of the development of their own communities.
Over the course of two days, professionals in the field of women’s development shared the experiences they gained and the challenges they faced in their lines of action. It has been reported that the third Forum will be held in Guangzhou in 2017.