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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Left-behind women keep homes running (3)

By An Baijie and Xiang Mingchao (China Daily)

08:33, March 07, 2012

Left-behind women work as hourly employees at a farmland in Gushi, Henan province. (Xiang Mingchao / China Daily)

More attention needed

Left-behind women, most of them 30 to 50 years old, deserve more attention from society because they play increasingly important roles in rural life, Tao Wei, vice-chairwoman of Gushi Women's Federation, told China Daily on Friday.

Most of them have not had good education and have few skills to find work with modern companies in cities. They can get only poorly paying farm or factory work, Tao said.

The local government of Gushi county started some training programs for left-behind women in recent years, including courses on law and livestock breeding, she said.

Yao Ruikun, a manager at a local factory that makes wooden articles, has hired more than 200 workers - most of them left-behind women - for 50 to 70 yuan a day apiece.

"Hiring local middle-aged women saves the company from having to pay for their accommodations, as it would have to with young workers, and the left-behind women usually aren't as demanding about the working environment and pay," Yao said.

However, Yao also found that it not so easy to keep left-behind women in step with the methods of modern enterprise. "During the busy seasons in agriculture, like the harvest, nearly all the workers go back home for their crops and the factory has no one left," Yao said. "It's useless to make rules for them."

The marriage problems of left-behind women have been highlighted in recent years, and some news reports said that the long-lasting separation from their husbands has undermined many marriages in rural areas.

Tao Wei, of the women's federation, said that many left-behind women have complained to her that their marriages are not happy because of the long separations from their husbands.

Zhang Fuxia, however, said preserving her marriage is not a problem.

"My husband usually makes phone calls to me, and I've gone to his workplace in Hefei several times," she said. "There is no problem in our marriage."

Zhang said the family's real concern is preparing for her 23-year-old son's marriage because they have to work harder to earn more money for it.

"I don't have any wishes for Women's Day (March 8), and I don't really care about that," she said.

"What I do care about is saving enough money to help my son get married as soon as possible."

Yuan Jincheng contributed to this story.

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