Question: What’s the Distance Between Beijing and Chicago?

That’s how far the Beijing Municipal Women’s Federation travelled in December 2012, for a morning of thought leadership, advocacy and information sharing. 12 women from the Beijing area learned about what the Women’s Business Devleopment Center (WBDC) is doing in Chicago, as well as around the world for women’s rights.

The impressive group of women, made up of doctors, vice presidents of labor unions, business owners, a director of the Beijing Women’s.

International Exchange Center, professors and more, were articulate and animated as they dialogued with the WBDC staff. These women are at the forefront of fighting for parity in a country historically known for viewing women and girls in an unflattering light.

china2“We work to promote equality in the city between men and women and are the largest women’s organization in Beijing. There are many similarities between WBDC and us; we hold workshops, give lectures and hold forums on women’s position in the business world,” says Li Yue, director, Beijing Women’s International Exchange Center.

The Beijing Municipal Women’s Federation is funded entirely by the Chinese government, to the sum of 10 million Yuan, which equates to roughly $1.6 million U.S. dollars. The Federation is working to increase exporting businesses run by women by assisting business owners acquire high level employees. Currently, Beijing has around 1,000 women-owned businesses in a population of 20 million; comparatively Chicago has around 293,400 women-owned businesses with a total population of 2.8 million. The difference in numbers is staggering, but progress is being made.

Not only does the Federation offer staffing selection assistance, they also work to provide child care, emotional assistance, healthcare and competition within the workplace. They also provide small businesses with funding, similar to the WBDC’s Micro Finance Program, as access to capital is also a critical small business issue in Beijing. Their services are well rounded and designed to meet the needs of the Chinese women they serve.

To see pictures of the Beijing Women’s Federation visit, please click here.


About Hedy M. Ratner

Hedy M. Ratner is founder and co-president of the Women's Business Development Center, the largest, oldest and most comprehensive and successful women's business assistance center in the U.S. She blogs about entrepreneurship, working women, success stories, small business and more in “Windows to Business Success.”