She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Wu Jiuhua is chairperson of the Women’s Federation in Wangdu County, Hebei Province. She founded the ‘Help the Poor Children Fund’ to help alleviate poverty among young girls. She has also established more than 30 training bases to train women to change their lives of poverty.
She says: “Peace shall come only when everyone’s rights are protected”.
Jiuhua Wu – China
She works for the Women’s Federation, Wandu County.
Wu Jiuhua had served in different posts in the village government. In 2002, she started to work as the chairperson of the Women’s Federation in Wangdu County. In whatever post, Wu worked wholeheartedly for the people.
She earned the reputation of being ‘the life saving village head’ when she was appointed to head Zhao Zhuang Village in 1999. It was an unusual year for the peasants in Zhao Zhuang Village, as their wheat fields were attacked by some kind of worms. They were very anxious when they saw the wheat stocks were being eaten by the worms but could do nothing.
Wu knew the anxiety of the peasants and the importance of the harvest to them. She went to live in the field with other specialists. Under the burning sun, carrying iron hoes with them, they cycled tens of miles in the wheat field. They talked to peasants with rich experience and carefully inspected every piece of land. After serious investigation and research and extensive reading, they were able to pinpoint the cause for such an attack.
Immediately they delivered pesticides to peasants. In order that each peasant could purchase the pesticides in time and thereby ensure a good harvest in that year, Wu used her own savings as a guarantee for the bank. When the wheat field was in blossom again, the villagers were so grateful to Wu and called her ‘the life saving village head’. But she had to hide away from them because she was allergic to pollen and her face would become swollen.
As to the problem of education of poor children, apart from helping individual students by her own personal means and soliciting donations from people coming from all walks of life and support from the government, Wu suggested the relevant departments of the County establish a ‘Help the Poor Children Fund’ to protect the right of education of poor children and convinced some entrepreneurs and government officials to donate more than $240,000 as seed money for the Fund.
For the sake of tackling women’s poverty, Wu worked with her colleagues in the Women’s Federation to transform it into an organization with high efficiency and motivation. She started a ‘Four a’s’-campaign to actualize it:
- 1) a collective study once a week;
- 2) a visit to the grassroots level once a week;
- 3) helping a member to do one good thing once a season;
- 4) writing a research paper every half a year.
Besides, she set up an evaluation system that was based on the concrete tasks they had done for the grass-roots women for the Women’s Federation officials. In each village, she wanted to identify the best work done by the Federation. In the last few years, Wu and her colleagues visited every village in the County and lived and worked with the peasants there, helping them to work out a development plan. The total period of time Wu stayed in the villages per year was over three months.
During these years, she also helped to introduce grape and flower planting and cattle breeding to the villages, which attracted more than 3 millions of business investments. As a result, 25 villages became ‘civilized ecological villages’ in which 1118 families were categorized as ‘civilized star families’. She nevertheless realized through her work that the poverty of women could not be erased fundamentally only by ‘giving blood’ to them. Instead, the education level of women should be raised so that they could ‘create blood’ themselves.
Wu therefore lead women of the County to start campaigns like ‘Learn and Compare’ and ‘Women Do Achieve’ to encourage the learning of cultural and technical knowledge and comparison of results and contributions. She organized for women representatives 92 visits to agricultural development centers, private enterprises and hi-tech institutes, and co-operated with related units to conduct 140 courses for the training thousands women. She also started ‘one helps two, one heads ten’ (one expert from the academia helps two capable women, one capable woman helps ten village women) program.
Other activities included the creation of ‘women’s civilized ecological courtyards’, ‘learning type families’, calling for members’ meetings, giving instruction to women at grass-roots level, organizing sharing sessions, and so on.
All these activities helped to stimulate women to create fortunes scientifically. As a result, 256 women with capacity were trained, 30 bases for women were founded, 18 villages became rich by developing technology, and 11500 women were able to move out of poverty. A liaison unit on providing domestic service was set up in every village, resulting in sending 1150 women to work as domestic helpers. A women’s re-employment center was also established to help 1180 unemployed women to regain jobs.
In order that women’s rights to be protected, Wu organized the ‘Women’s Rights Organization’ and carried out activities such as ‘I contribute to protect women’s rights’ and ‘8 March women rights’ week’. Law training courses were organized and information was provided. All these helped to improve the status of women.
The Women’s Federation later conducted a TV program to teach women legal knowledge so that more people could benefit. In the last two years, 13 women victims of domestic violence were able to get justice, 5 couples restored a good relationship, the maintenance fee of 9 children from divorced families was settled, 9 people with problems relating to property rights were helped, and 3 cases involving complaints to higher authorities were successful.
Wu is a person who dares to face challenges. She called on all women of the County to fight against SARS during the epidemy. She wrote on behalf of the Women’s Federation ‘a letter to all women in the County whose relatives are working outside’ asking them to persuade their relatives not to come home. Her sincere aspiration touched many women and stopped many others from returning home. She cycled to and for 20 kilometers every day to visit peasants and to announce the importance of isolation to ensure success in the prevention of SARS.
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