Mian Xiaohong

In 1998 the Beijing-based monthly journal Rural Women Knowing All hosted a story-writing competition with the theme “My Life as a Migrant Worker.” Over three hundred manuscripts were submitted, with an entry from Mian Xiaohong, who had left her home in Wuwei to seek work in Beijing at age sixteen, winning second place. “We girls who’ve left the village are poor, ignorant, and have such low self-esteem,” Mian wrote in her essay. “We long for the respect of society. But if we don’t stand up for ourselves, who will take us seriously?”

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