03-07-2007 16:50

China's economic development has transformed the countryside. Rural people have new roles, and with them come new social problems as well as benefits. Let's have a look at two very different stories of women from the countryside.

Yu Guilan toils away, every day. From the day she got married, her whole life has been dedicated to her family. She said, "I've been brought up to accept that women should lead a simple life. If I could find a husband who'd treat me well, that's enough."

In the countryside, it's the women who do the housework and take care of the elderly.

Like her mother-in-law, Yu never went to school.

That privilege goes to boys, like Yu's own son.

Yu also said, "If my son can go to university and have a better life than mine, that will be my greatest joy."

Yu Guilan opened this small shop to make extra money. She says financial independence is the only way to get respect.

China's economic reform has brought huge changes to the countryside.

With men going to the cities, women now make up two-thirds of the rural work force.

With most of the men in Sha He gone, the women struggle to hold the family together.

The same is happening all over China.

Traditionally,women in the countryside have always been under pressure. From men, from family, and from work. Now they have new pressure -- for them to control their own lives. But that’s a slow and difficult process which is changing China."