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Chinese, African women's shared progress amid growing cooperation

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-07-02 08:39

Exhibitors pose for a group photo at the third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo at the Changsha International Convention and Exhibition Center in Changsha, Central China's Hunan province, June 29, 2023. [Photo by Gu Pengbo/chinadaily.com.cn]

CHANGSHA -- With beads of sweat on her sunburnt face, Liang Qiuli found her overalls already soaked with perspiration.

At the construction site of the Central Business District in Egypt's new administrative capital, Liang meticulously examined building materials' sizes, quantity, and specifications, braving the scorching sun.

Hailing from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in southern China, the female engineer is a relative rarity in a sector that typically demands on-site work thousands of kilometers away from home. "People often perceive construction sites as male-dominated environments, but women can also make significant contributions with their professionalism, attention to detail, and meticulousness."

Involved in the most sizable project undertaken by Chinese enterprises in Egypt to date, Liang tirelessly worked at the construction site throughout the day. When night fell, she diligently assessed the work's progress, checked data, and wrote comprehensive reports. "I aspire to engage in more projects in the future, supporting the infrastructure development of more African nations."

The stories at the construction site in Egypt are vivid examples of the vital role of women in Sino-African cooperation. From medical aid, scientific research, and poverty reduction to economic and trade exchanges and blending of lifestyles, women from China and Africa engage in broader, stronger, and more effective cooperation.

As China-Africa exchanges and cooperation deepen, these passionate, resilient, and courageous women continue to spread the gentle yet powerful force of "hold up half the sky," contributing to the enduring friendship between China and Africa.

Hoda Ibrahim Ahmed Gomaa, a female employee working side by side with Liang, served as a safety officer on the project after she acquired knowledge on equipment safety through the China-Egypt collaborative initiative known as the "Luban Institute."

The Egyptian woman made no bones about her apathy when she took the post at first. "Initially, I intended to secure a stable job to provide for my family, but as I worked, I became intrigued by this sector."

She sees Chinese projects as agents of change, introducing standardized employee training practices and advanced production technologies to Africa. "This position has equipped me with invaluable skills and significantly enhanced my family's well-being."

Lineo Kobeli is another African female chasing her "Chinese dream" amid the evolving China-Africa cooperation.

Since childhood, the woman from Lesotho has heard many stories about the country in the Far East from her father, a businessman who frequently traveled to China.

After spending two years working in Africa, she seized the chance to pursue a master's degree in China, finally fulfilling her childhood dream.

During a youth entrepreneurship competition, Kobeli was captivated by a Chinese woman on the judging panel representing the Africa Guangdong Business Association.

"She stated that with sufficient determination, women can be successful in their careers," Kobeli recalled. Inspired by these words, Kobeli approached the judge after the competition.

"In her, I saw a woman I wanted to become. I asked her if there was an opportunity to work with them, and she agreed," she recalled.

The Chinese woman Kobeli mentioned was Tracy Huo, vice president of AGBA. Huo recalled being moved by the African woman's confidence, sincerity, and eagerness to learn, so she invited Kobeli to intern with her team.

"African youths can be inspired by China's development, learn and equip ourselves here, and give back to Africa," Kobeli said.

Huo has also witnessed the changing social roles of African women in recent years. She said that an increasing number of African women had escaped poverty and realized their self-worth through education, skill development, and industrial growth.

"In the future, women will certainly play a greater role in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchanges," Huo said confidently.

On June 29, the China-Africa Women's Forum took place in Changsha, Central China's Hunan province, as a side event of the China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo.

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