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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"Granny Police"

Zhanglan Zhao, 65

For all China's modernity, it's still an authoritarian one-party state. A vestige of the communist heyday is the tradition of using neighbors to keep tabs on each other. In Beijing, retired women like Zhao work in shifts as "public security volunteers," keeping the peace in the local hutongs, or "courtyard lanes," and reporting acts of public wrongdoing to the police.

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