CHANGSHA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-nine seems to be a "dreadful" year for single women in China, especially in rural areas. But Yang Yunfei, who is entering her 400s, is in no rush to get married.
Yang is from Shibadong, a Miao minority village in central China's Hunan Province. Shibadong in Chinese means 18 caves, as there are 18 natural karst caves in the village. The scarcity of arable land was the biggest obstacle to local villagers hoping to improve their lives.
Yang was a well-known "poor girl" in her village. Her parents relied on a meager 0.2 hectares of land to support aging and sick grandparents, Yang and her younger brother and sister.
To help out with the family expenses, Yang migrated to work in cities after graduating from secondary school.
"To support our families, females in my village usually get married at early ages," Yang said. "But I didn't want to compromise."
Tucked away in remote mountains, Shibadong was once an extremely impoverished village. Its per capita annual net income was just 1,668 yuan (240 U.S. dollars) in 2013, with 136 out of 225 households living below the poverty line.
In the same year, the nationwide "targeted poverty alleviation" campaign was initiated there. Thanks to improved infrastructure, featured industries such as tourism and agricultural products began to boom in the village.
Seeing the changes in her hometown, Yang returned three years ago. After receiving free training organized by the poverty alleviation working team dispatched to the village, she became a tour guide.
Last year, she became a member of the village's embroidery cooperative and opened a crafts shop.
As life in the village continues to improve, her notion of love and marriage are changing as well.
"I have more expectations for true love. Some of my female friends got married only to find someone to depend on. But now, with a steady income, I'd rather stay unmarried if I don't find my Mr. Right," she said.
During the Lunar New Year holiday, a dating event was held in Shibadong, drawing single people from nearby villages.
Wu Juzhen, a matchmaker, spoke with many participants. "Rural girls used to care more about their potential partner's income and family background. It used to be that if a man didn't beat his girlfriend, he was considered marriageable."
"But in recent years, girls are more concerned about if they are independent and responsible, and if their suitor is handsome," she said. "Rural females have higher requirements for their marriage."
Yang Sheng was the organizer of the dating event. He said although there are more unmarried men in the region, females, to his surprise, were more eager to sign up for the dating event. "Those who bravely and actively pursue love are mostly females."
Yang Yunfei stood onstage at the opening day of the dating event, introducing herself to the crowd: "Hello everyone! I'm 29 years old. I hope I can fall in love with someone who also likes me today."
"It used to be the dream to marry a city man for us rural girls. But it is different now. I want to stay in the village even if my husband is from the city. It is even better if he agrees to move here," she said. Enditem