Girls’ & Women’s Education
Sichuan Province, CHINA
Women & Babies
Families & Community Members
Background – Gender Equality, Maternal Health & Babies’ Well-being
Gender equality is one of the most important factors in the sustainable development of any society. In China, although women have made some progress in the past few decades, there is still a way to the influence of traditional views on gender. According to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, China ranks 100th out of 144 economies across the world in terms of gender equality. Women in China still face disadvantage in terms of economic status, learning opportunities, political participation, health and welfare. This inequality is exacerbated by an imbalanced male to female birth ratio, a result of the many years the one-child policy – and with that a preference for boys over girls – was in place. It is also more pronounced in China’s more rural western provinces where economic development has been less strong (such as Sichuan Province) than in the eastern coastal provinces. The Rural Education Action Project put the rate of gender inequality in rural areas as nearly twice as high as that in urban areas (2012).
With the recent abandonment of the one-child policy in favor of allowing and even encouraging parents to have up to two children, topics such as fertility and family planning have increasingly attracted attention in society. For various reasons, however, people often focus on the “next generation”, but ignore addressing the likely impact on the mother. Having an additional child has a great impact on the young family, and in particular the mother, in terms of well-being, health, income and employment. Also, most of the women currently in the reproductive period are only children born during the “one-child” policy era and having grown up in this special environment, they face new and unknown pressures from family and society. Finally, care for pregnant women is also limited to nutritional advice and other aspects of getting the body ready for childbirth, but mental health, social well-being and other factors are being ignored.
All this makes having and raising children extremely challenging for many Chinese women, and they find themselves easily struggling to cope, which can cause not only mental health issues for the mothers, but also endanger the healthy development of the children, family happiness and even harmony in society. Too often, mothers and families struggle to address these challenges on their own. In this lies an opportunity to help shape a mother- and baby-friendly environment in China.
Born out of the need for women to adapt to a fast-changing society, this project focuses on promoting women’s livelihoods by supporting new mothers and local communities. More in particular, we aim to:
- Improve women’s livelihood skills by providing vocational training courses
- Improve women’s and the public’s awareness of maternity and infant health management
- Provide social and mental health support for women during pregnancy and after birth
- Stimulate the development of a mother- and baby-friendly environment through our advocacy efforts
Some of our activities:
- Continue the daily functioning and management of our “Sister Workshop Center” vocational training center for vulnerable women
- Provide skills and vocational training (e.g. in women’s health, baby’s health, parenting), run group activities for pregnant women and new mums in providing social and mental support etc.
- Run campaigns and community activities promoting better a understanding of maternity health management, calling for friendlier mother and baby environment and better working condition for mothers
- Prepare for and develop new local partnerships