Gulikez Amantur, a Uygur barber in Wushi, works in her shop. Provided to China Daily
This year, the office of the Women's Federation in Wushi, a State-designated poverty-stricken county in the south of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, started a program to help 46 impoverished women open barbershops in their home villages.
The program will help the women to start their own businesses and promote modern lifestyles in poverty-stricken villages, said Wang Yuzhu, deputy head of the federation's office.
Anargul Sultan, a member of the Uygur ethnic group from Inat village in Wushi, used to live by farming. Recently, she opened the first barbershop in her village.
"Villagers used to go to the barber in town, but now they can have their hair cut in the village," she said. "Business is good. I can earn 300 yuan ($43) on a good day. I will learn to provide more stylish haircuts in the future to make the local women look more beautiful."
Gulikez Amantur, a 26-year-old Uygur woman from Aktokhay, one of the poorest villages in Aksu prefecture, used to make a living by picking cotton in Kuqa, a nearby county. The work was tiring, and although she worked eight hours a day, her salary barely kept pace with the cost of living.
In 2013, she became pregnant, so she quit her job and stayed in her home village. Her husband works at a small store in the local bazaar, earning a few hundred yuan a month. "The time after my baby was born was probably the hardest of my life," Gulikez said.
"However, when they learned that I had trained as a barber, the Women's Federation offered me the opportunity to open my own barbershop. They provided free premises and 10,000 yuan to buy the necessary equipment.
"I only charge 5 yuan for a haircut, which is cheaper than the barber in town. I also sell some skincare products and shampoos, which are popular with women in my village. Sometimes, my husband goes to Aksu city to help me restock," she added.
Gulikez makes about 1,000 yuan a month from her new endeavor. "I hope my barbershop will attract more people - I want to seize this opportunity to live a better life," she said.