China: E Yang

I am just an ordinary person doing ordinary things.

— E Yang

Yang E encouraged the people of Beacon Village to set up an art troupe and a rural folk dance team. Besides establishing the village cooperative and helping women to apply for microcredits, she has also organized women to participate in planting over 10,000 trees in the village. Yang has helped to change the villagers’ preference for boy children and has brought cultural and economic developments to the village.

Yang E moved to Beacon Village, Urad Middle Banner, Ba Yan Lake City, an underdeveloped area in Inner Mongolia, when she got married after graduating from secondary school. Working as officer of the village women’s federation, she was responsible for family planning and birth control and she was unhappy with the status and quality of life of the village women. After much thought, Yang decided to set up an art troupe and motivated women and other villagers to participate in it. The women’s cultural life was enriched by the activities of the troupe; they also benefited intellectually and many began to rethink their preference for boy children. They gradually gave up taking risks to have children outside the state plan and accepted the idea that fewer births mean a better and wealthier life. The confidence inspired Yang to set up a cooperative in the village, particularly as it was the time of rural reform in China. Yet the task was not easy, and she came under pressure also from her family who felt neglected. But she bore all this because she had a vision to work for women. She spent two years working to set up microcredit projects for women, and led a program to plant 10,000 trees under the forest plantation program of the March 8 Project. The Beacon Village cooperative, the first of its kind in Inner Mongolia, was founded in July 2004 as a result of her efforts that have also made a significant difference to economic and social life in the village.

Beacon Cooperative