Rural women build new homes in relocated villages

Xinhua, September 05, 2023
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Photo taken on Sept. 14, 2018 shows grapes for winery use at a plantation in Hongsipu District of Wuzhong City, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

After sending her sons to school, Ma Xiaohong begins her busy day with her husband at their grocery store in Hongsipu District, Wuzhong City, in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Although it's only a modest business in Dehong village, it embodies the 36-year-old's pursuit of a better life.

A decade ago, Ma and her family relocated to Hongsipu, around 80 kilometers south of her previous residence in the mountainous Tongxin County.  

Factories and workshops sprang up in Hongsipu due to the subsequent incentive policies implemented by the local government, drawing an increasing number of villagers back to Hongsipu.

An industrial park was set up, enabling more farmers and workers to work near their homes.

Ma and her husband, Luo Haigao, viewed it as an opportunity and opened a store near the industrial park. Today, the store has a secure and stable monthly revenue of around 15,000 yuan (about 2,063 U.S. dollars).

They also learned to ride the wave of online shopping and began to receive online orders.

Hongsipu was once part of the Gobi Desert. It became one of China's largest settlement areas after a section of the Yellow River was raised and became a primary water source for locals.

Ma Guilan used to live in a mountainous hamlet and now lives next to the house of Ma Xiaohong. Before the relocation, she worked as a cook at the mine where her husband worked.

Benefiting from the influx of villagers back into the town for work, 36-year-old Ma Guilan now makes a living by running a shop, selling clothes for women, cosmetics, and local agricultural products such as wolfberries, floral tea, and dried vegetables.

The business also supports her three children's education. "The quality of life has improved significantly," said Ma Guilan.

Women also make up the most essential workforce in schools and educational institutions in Hongsipu.

Each day, Jin Xia gives online reading lessons to over 1,000 students and more than 10,000 followers from around the country.

Over the past one and a half years, the 41-year-old teacher in Hongsipu has designed a series of 600 lessons teaching Chinese and mathematics on the video-sharing and live-streaming app Kuaishou.

"The women who moved from the mountainous areas to Hongsipu experienced a significant change in their social roles within one generation," said writer Ma Huijuan in Ningxia, also a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC). "They went from being confined to domestic roles to actively participating in society, which is a remarkable transformation."

"The new homes, with government support, have given them great confidence and hope to empower themselves in various fields. They also all hope that their children will receive higher education to ensure a brighter future," said Ma Huijuan.