Recognizing that improving the lives of rural women is key to fighting poverty and achieving sustainable development, UNDP China and Mary Kay, in collaboration with the China Women’s Development Foundation, the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges, the Women’s Federation of Yunnan Province, and Yongren County Government launched the SDG Pilot Village Project in Waipula, Yunnan Province, China in 2017.
The project advanced women’s labor market participation through eco-tourism, the development of a thriving Yi cultural industry and by advancing sustainable agricultural practices. These activities were enhanced by efforts to strengthen women’s leadership opportunities in community decision-making forums.
Ultimately, rural women entrepreneurs became the drivers of local economic growth and poverty reduction bringing about transformational changes to their community. Showcasing the multiplier effect of women’s entrepreneurship to the advancement of the SDGs at the local level, the project contributed to 12 of the 17 SDGs and crucially reduced poverty in the village from 28% in 2017 to 0% in 2020.
Entitled “Piloting SDG Localization at the Village Level – A Women-focused Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development Project in Yunnan Province, China,” the impact report highlights the genesis, means of implementation and outcomes of the project advanced through a multi-stakeholder supported development process. Read more about the results of the SDG Pilot Village Project (2017-2021) here:
This 11-minute video entitled “Huobonuoma” or “Daughters of the Moon” features the real-life stories of three women leaders from the village of Waipula in Yunnan Province, China – site of implementation of a SDG Pilot Village Project. The video presents how Shiqiong Han, Yongyan Zhu and Xuefang Xia have contributed to the village’s economic, environmental and social transformation through their leadership and commitment to preserving the Yi heritage, promoting eco-tourism, and applying sustainable agricultural practices. Also featured in the video are key partner representatives who highlight the advancements that have taken place in the village by targeting women’s entrepreneurship as a key driver of poverty reduction and local sustainable development. Watch the video here:
Meet the Waipula women!
Xuefang Xia is a performer and Deputy Head of Waipula’s Art Ensemble, named Huobonuoma, “Daughters of the Moon”, and serves as Manager of the local guesthouse. She is proud of her Yi ancestry and enjoys showcasing the village’s rich history to tourists. When the village’s Ecotourism Cooperative established the Women’s Federation, Xuefang Xia was elected as its Chairwoman. Applying sustainable agricultural practices in her new role as owner of a mango farm enabled her to double her annual income in 2020 and support her family.
“We have set up a cooperative in our village (…) we have a hotel, a youth hostel, and an inn. I am in charge of it. It is something that we had never thought about before. Now we have made an income from it.”
Shiqiong Han grew up in Waipula at a time when the village had no running water. As a child she would have to walk to the river and carry water to her home in a bamboo basket. Shortly after realizing her dream of having her own farm, her husband passed away and she was left to tend to her pig farm on her own. After experiencing hardship on the farm, she went to veterinary school and was able to learn more about how to care for her animals. Through perseverance, she learned that “women are capable of providing for themselves.” Today, Shiqiong Han is President of the Art Ensemble and a proud farmer.
“Although it is a small farm as long as I put my heart into it and try to learn bit by bit, anything can be achieved.”
Yongyan Zhu is the youngest Village Committee member. She returned to her native Waipula as she wanted to be closer to her family. Today, she is Vice General Manager of the Eco-tourism Cooperative and her contribution to the sustainable development of Waipula has helped reduce the poverty rate in the village to 0%.
“They built a bridge so that we could see the world out there. I also want to build a bridge to let people come here. To see our Waipula … to drink our water and hear us sing. To dance with us and experience our life here.”