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Women Take Part in Economic Construction and Social Development


Women have made great contributions to the industrial development of Tibet,especially to the development of its national handicrafts industry. By the end of 1992, women workers accounted for 32.5 percent of all workers in Tibet and up to 85 percent of workers in the textile and handicrafts industries.

Kardian, a type of tranditional carpet with a history of more than 600 years, is considered a necessary possession by Tibetans, but it is also an elegant example of traditional handiwork. In a kardian factory in Zedang Village,Nedong Degyi Choedon, and vice director, Tsering Choedhar, are sisters.

Before they took over this kardian factory in 1986, it was on the verge of bankruptcy because of poor management. The two sisters reformed its operation and management and in 1990 extended its workshop with a 500,000-yuan loan they received from the A utonomuous Region Government. Then they started to search for customers. As a result, the production value in 1991 had doubled, which earned them hundreds of thousands of yuan in profits after they had repaid the loan. The carpets they produce not only sell well in Tibetan markets but are also exported to Nepal,Germany and the United States.

The factory also makes carpets according to the special requirements of foreign customers. At the factory's exhibition hall are many examples of the colorful carpets and citations and silk banners awarded by the Autonomous Region Government, the Ministry of Light Industry and the State Nationalities Affairs Commission.

In talking about prospects of the factory, Degyi Choedon said,"Modern enterprise needs modern management. I had no chance to go to school when I was yong. Now, I often feel that my ability falls short of my wishes. My younger sister is better than I because she went to middle school in Changzhou, a well-known industrial city in Jiangsu Province. I hope more educated young people would come to work in our township enterprises."

With the development of the commodity economy in Tibet and the expansion of the market, more and more Tibetan women are doing businness. An outstanding one is Tsamchoe, vice-director of the supply and marketing cooperative in Yadong County. She took the position in 1983 and is in charge of the whole cooperative.

"There are times when women couldn't even look men in the eye. Now women can make accomplishments in their work just like men." she said. She made an effort to organize the supply of goods according to the market demands. After working from 1985 to 1992, the Yadong supply and marketing cooperative not only returned a loan of 440,000 yuan, but also made a profit of 771,300 yuan, which ranked first among their counterparts in the Xigaze area; in 1991 the cooperative was chosen as the "National Advanced Unit in Accoubnting;" in 1993, Tsamchoe was conferred the national "Women's Contributions" award for urban women.

Barkhor Street is a must for domestic and foreign tourists and pilgrims who visit Lhasa to see. Encircling the Jokhang Monastery, the street is 600 meters long, lined on both sides with shops abd stalls, it offers an abundance of typical Tibetan daily necessities, handrcraft articles and goods for pilgrims, and empties the purses of many tourists. Therefore, many clever Tibetan women choose it as their market.

Pema, 27, has had her shop on Barkhor Street for six years. In addition to typical Tibetan commodities, she sells beautiful Southeast Asian products that she buys in Zham port, where she travels twice a year. With a superb collection of goods, her shops is booming.

Commercial activities extend the scope of Tibetan women's economic activity. The exchange of urban and rural commoditites not only activates the market, but also trains a generation of Tibetan businesswomen, with townswomen contacting the countryside and herdswomen and women near towns. Tsamlag, a self-employed businesswoman in Chengguan (the area just outside a city gate) District of Lhasa , has gone as far as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou to replenish her stock. Moreover, she has established business contacts in these large cities. Her business volume has expanded from several thousand to more than 100,000 yuan.

According to statistics, 55. 1 percent of the 4,937 self- employed industrialists and businessmen in Chengguan District of Lhasa are women. Tibetan businesswomen can also be seen in Xigaze, Zham port Nyingchi and Nagqu.

You can even find women involved in international business negotiations held in Tibet, Rinchen Choedom is an interpreter at the Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation 'Department of the Tibet Autonomous Region. In 1991 she graduated with high marks from the College of Social Sciences of the University of Vancouver in Canada. Despite an invitation from three high-paying Canadian companies, she returned to Tibet. For two years she has had much success as an interpreter in a series of important trade talks with foreigners.

It has taken only 30 years for the agricultural industry in (Tibet to go from primitive slash-and-burn cultivation to beginning modern production. Today, some families of Tibetan farmers and herdsmen are trying to promote agriculture and animal husbandry by making use of science and technology. More and more Tibetan women are joining this group.

Anzi is a rather famous farmer known as the best plant breeding expert in Lhozhag County. After she returned to her village in the early 1970s, after graduating from agricultural methodology training in Nedong County, she bred about 2,500 kilograms of improved varieties of seed for her production team that year. By 1979 she had developed more than 30 seed samples. In order to disseminate these improved varieties of seed. Anzi experimented with them on the 6.2-mu (15 mu=one hectare) field that had been contracted by her family for many years. Improved varieties of highland barley and winter cheat which were successfully grown in her experiments have been used by the farmers, the ''Anzi-l '' improved variety of highland barley and the improved variety of "'gabo' spring wheat" she has developed using routine seed selection methods have become favorites with peasants in Lhozhag County. Farmers who grew the improved varieties Anzi developed had increased their per-mu yield from more than 200 to about 450 kilograms. ''The seeds Anzi breeds are the most reliable, '' they said. Anzi is a deputy to the Third and the Fourth People': Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a March 8 Pace-setter and a labor model of the Autonomous Region. But she contends, ''I'm still a farmer: a woman who plants crops.''

In order to popularize the practical scientific technologies, the Tibet's Federation of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1988 launched a "Learn and Compete" campaign across these areas. "Learn" is to acquire knowledge and skills,and to "compete" is to move toward achievements and contributions. More than 150,000 women have attended night schools and practical technology training classes, and over 90 percent of women have acquired from two to three pratical skills in farming and animal husbandry. This new-found knowledge has paved the way for them to become rich through farm production.

Tsering Paimo, a farmer at Qoinda Village,Dagze County, reaped rich harvests for many years through running scientific farming and her stock-raising bussiness.She has sold 4,650 kgs of extra grains and over one hundred small domestic animals to the state.In 1992 she bought a walking tractor to transport goods for others and earned an annual income of nearly 10,000 yuan. As deputy head of Choedhar Village, Tsering Palmo didn't forget to help poor households to shed their poverty after her own family had become rich. Dechen's husband died early and she had to raise her children by herself. Tsering Palmo helped her turn up the soil and plant crops,gather and transport wheat. Once,when one of Dechen's children contracted an acute disease, Tsering Palmo rode the child on her tractor 80 km to the Lhasa Municipal Hospital.

Led by Tsring Palmo, the villagers improved lives year after year. The average annual income per capita in 1992 was 672 yuan. At the Butter lamp Festival(called Channga Chospa in Tibetan language),the 15th day of the first month in Tibetan calendar, Tsering palmo and the villagers danced skorbzhd (dance hand in hand in a circle) joyously around a vat of barley wine.

The slogan,"Science and Technology are the First Productive Forces,"receives response from everywhere in Tibet. Female science and technological workers are dedicated to various fields. Isamchoe Dolam,34,is an excellent example. In 1988 she was transferred to the Tibetan Plateau Biology Research Institute attached to the Autonomous Region Science and Technology Commission to begin her research on the wild animal resources. Since her specialty is veterinary medicine, she had great difficulty in doing wild animal research. But because the Tibetan Plateau is so richly endowed with wildlife,the area captured her interset.

To investigate the secrets of wild animals, one must go into their environment .Tsamchoe Doima joined each field investigation organized by her institute.North of the Changtant Plateau is a harsh climate. Drinking water is scarce. The study group often encountered violent snowstorms and at one point was lost. When snow trapped them in their tents, they couldn't have hot meals or boiled water for many days.Tsamchoe Dolma overcame all of these predicaments like her male counterparts. After four investigations of wildlife on the Changtant Plateau, the team catalogued 30,022 plateau animals, of which 28,329 were mammals under state chief protection.Tsamchoe Dolma's feet had left prints across the Changtant Plateau,which has an area of 260,000 square kilometers.

Her thesis, "A Winter Research on Ecology of Tibetan Black-neck Crane,"a collaboration with her tutor.Professor GuBinyuan,"A Summer Research on Wild Ungulate Animals in Changtant Area,"completed with Guo Gangjun and " A General Survey of the nature Preserve in Vphanbpo County Where the Black-neck Cranes in Lhungruo Contry Overwinter," provide an important scientific basis for studying and protecting rare species of wildlife on the Tibetan Plateau.

At the end of 1993,"A Research on Rare Mammals on the Changtant Plateau in Tibet," a joint study of the Tibetan Plateau Resarch Institute of Wild Animals and the International Wild Animal Protection Department of the New York Institute of Zoology in the United Sates, won first prize for projects for scientific progress, the fifth such award given by the Tibet Autonomous Region government.Eleven Chinese and American scientific and technical workers,including Tsamchoe Dalma and Professor Gu Binyuan, also won first place in individual prizes.

There are many qualified scientific and technical workers like Tsamchoe Dolma among the community of Tibetan women. They are making contributions to scientific and technical progress and the social developmet of Tibet. And investigation shows that more than 18 percent of people with senior technical titles in the entire region are women.

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