15 in a Billion

With 1.4 billion citizens, mainland China is the world's most populous country—and home to one in five women on our planet, from rice farmers to multimillionaires. Photographer Kate Peters and writer Abigail Haworth capture a portrait of a nation in dramatic flux through 15 women.

By Abigail Haworth

November 5, 2012 11:00 AM
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Ballerina

Wei-Ying Zhang, 35

When Shanghai-born Zhang was 10, government officials visited her school and chose her to join China's grueling national ballet training program. "Being chosen was a great honor, so it was hard to refuse," she says. She had to leave home and study dance for 12 hours a day. "The regimen was so tough that the trainees often held mass crying sessions." But Zhang says it was worth it. She became a top ballerina with the Shanghai Ballet, traveled the world, and is now a choreographer.

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