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Relocation gives rural women a new lease on life

China Daily,January 04, 2021 Adjust font size:

Hai Yan, a 27-year-old rural woman who dropped out of primary school in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, is today riding the wave of the booming e-commerce industry.

"My daily routine used to be taking care of my two kids, working in the fields and attending to the livestock," said Hai, who once lived in Xihaigu, which was until recent years one of the country's most impoverished areas.

Thanks to a government-sponsored relocation project, she has moved to a new urban area, Minning, near the regional capital Yinchuan. The move eight years ago has not only improved Hai's financial situation, but also given her a fresh zest for life.

She has a job at a workshop that processes local agricultural products such as goji berries. But Hai also does online sales work that involves conducting livestreaming sessions every afternoon.

"I help sell agricultural products online for two hours every day," said Hai, as she put on her makeup in preparation for a livestreaming session.

It is the first job that Hai has ever had, which gives her satisfaction and makes her proud. Her husband works away most of the year, earning more money than he would at home.

Hai said that she is now used to the bustling urban lifestyle in her new hometown, as are the 50 or so women in the workshop, most of whom lived on farms before moving to the town.

Xu Meijia, who is in charge of the workshop, said "women used to be undervalued in their families, but their lives have changed dramatically since getting jobs and incomes".

Female employees are quick to enroll their children in classes, despite fees that can account for over one-third of their income, Xu said. "They believe that they are uneducated, but the next generation should not be."

Xu said over 90 percent of her workers are mothers with only primary-school educations. In the beginning, few were able to use a computer, but their hard work and persistence soon paid off.

Hai earns about 2,500 yuan ($382) per month, and her salary goes up if she volunteers to work extra hours when the orders pour in during busy periods.

"They not only contribute their efforts to fighting poverty within their families and the region, but also set a good example for the younger generation who will be the future of our township," Xu said.

On Nov 16, Xiji, the last poor county in Xihaigu, was removed from the list of poverty-stricken counties. It marked the end of poverty in all nine poor counties in the region amid the country's efforts to eradicate absolute poverty by the end of the year.

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