Women setting their sights higher in Xinjiang

By JOCELYN EIKENBURG in Kashgar, Aksu | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-09-03 06:58
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Maryam Mamatali [Photo/China Daily]

A photograph of 34-year-old Maryam Mamatali is positioned on a wall at a factory run by Nanda New Agriculture Group in Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Her smile exudes the quiet confidence of a woman who has risen from working on a milk production line to become manager of an entire workshop.

"Since childhood, I have always been very hardworking. When I joined the company, I was really interested in learning and was a fast learner," said Maryam, a member of the Uygur ethnic group. "The bosses noticed my progress, so they really believed in me. They felt that I could do this work and shoulder more responsibility, so eventually they made me a manager."

Maryam, who has been with Nanda for 11 years, said many people admire her for joining one of the largest and most reputable companies in Kashgar.

The job also changed her life in a more personal way-she found love.

"When I joined the company, my husband's father worked there as a guard. He saw me and introduced me to his son," Maryam said.

The couple, who dated for just two months before getting married at a ceremony attended by company bosses, now has three children-a son and younger twin daughters.

"This job has been especially good," said Maryam, whose salary has greatly helped the family. "We have renovated our home into a villa with a small fruit garden. When I have to buy something for my kids, I no longer worry about it, and before winter sets in this year, I'm planning to buy a new car."

Women such as Maryam constitute a growing employment force, taking up 47.4 percent of the 480,900 newly created urban jobs in the region in 2019, according to a white paper titled Respecting and Protecting the Rights of All Ethnic Groups in Xinjiang released by the State Council Information Office in July.

In addition, the region has set goals for women to comprise more than 35 percent of its senior professional and technical personnel, and to occupy over 25 percent of managerial positions, supervisory boards and boards of directors in State-owned enterprises. These targets are set in the outlines for women's and children's development in Xinjiang for 2011-2020 issued by the regional government in 2011.

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