China is helping to empower African women

By Toumert AI Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/28 22:17:01

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


China's interaction with Africa has been attracting considerable attention lately, with billions of dollars provided in the form of preferential loans to support the continent's infrastructure, manufacturing, education, trading and sustainable development.

However, to reduce China's involvement with African nations to a relationship based merely on finance would be to understate the crucial impact that China is having on elevating African citizens out of poverty and offering opportunities that colonial powers were not interested in offering before.

One of the interesting consequences of China dealing with Africa is its influence for women, in terms of reducing gender inequality when it comes to jobs, social development and entrepreneurship.

A study of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Johannesburg action plan (2016-18) can show the essence of the Chinese focus on African women with three commitments: gender equality, employment and self development, and poverty reduction. The plan calls for opportunities for vocational skill training, seminars on creating female leaders, and implementing  200 "happy life" projects.

A report by McKinsey in 2017 found that  89 percent of workers hired by Chinese companies operating in the continent are locals, and that most African women prefer to work for Chinese firms as they offer better salaries, excellent benefits and, in particular, equal opportunities to grow professionally.

Another good example of China's sincere interest in women's progress in Africa could be seen when then Vice Premier Liu Yandong said that bilateral cooperation with South Africa would "not only foster women's welfare in the two countries," but would also be "of great significance for greater global gender equality" on April 26, 2017. She also mentioned China's desire to see more women involved in China-South Africa people-to-people exchanges and contributing to the cause of women's empowerment in the world.

There is also the China House project in Nairobi, where Chinese entrepreneurs are connected to the local female training centers, with an objective of providing African women with a formal channel to join the Chinese economic drive in the continent.

Finally we can mention the latest activities held by the Chinese cultural center in Abuja in Nigeria, which recently held an event titled "Women in Culture 2018." The gathering provided a space for Chinese and African women to demonstrate their creativity and the diversity they bring in terms of culture.

These efforts organized by China and Chinese firms also have the objective of making it possible for women to communicate with each other and have a better understanding of the potential lying ahead in terms of economic and social cooperation.

There is room for China to do more when it comes to helping women in Africa achieve their dream of economic independence, for instance by integrating e-payment platforms built by companies such as Tencent and Alibaba into the commercial environment at the village level. This would offer an alternative banking system to African women and help them take advantage of the opportunities that China can offer.

China is already changing the lives of thousands of African women. Sino-African relations represent a beacon of hope and can bring new changes that will allow women in Africa to lift themselves out of poverty, receive better education, and engage in the real economy.

The author is director of education with the International Bachelor Program at the International School under China Foreign Affairs University.

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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