Promoting gender equality through women's economic empowerment

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Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. Women make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.

Since Doi Moi (the economic and political reform launched in 1986), Vietnam has witnessed falling poverty rate along with significant achievements in health and education. However, as agriculture remains the main source of income for the majority of the population while the ongoing transition to a market economy takes place unevenly throughout the country, poverty reduction has faced additional challenges including growing gender-specific disparities between women and men. The situation in Ngan Son, a mountainous district of Bac Kan, is not different.

87% of Ngan Son’s population make their living through agriculture. 20% of the district’s people are living under poverty line. Women make up half of the inhabitants in Ngan Son but their participation in the economic and socio-political aspects is not widely noticeable. ChildFund’s baseline survey conducted in 2016 reveals that there is only 11% of women in Ngan Son could raise their concerns to the local government, which connects to women’s limited participation in decision making in both household and the community. 

ChildFund officer guiding a group discussion among the trainers from seven communes in Ngan Son

ChildFund officer guiding a group discussion among the trainers from seven communes in Ngan Son

In March 2017, ChildFund carried out another survey with 12 groups in Hoa Binh, Cao Bang, and Bac Kan on gender equality and economic empowerment. The result shows that most respondents, regardless of their genders, have little awareness of and understanding on gender equality, laws and policies protecting women’s rights. While men are considered the decision makers on income-related matters, women have to accept subordinate roles and take care of reproductive work in their family.

With the aim of enhancing the voice, participation and economic empowerment of ethnic minority women living in poverty at seven project communes of Ngan Son district, in 2018, ChildFund has supported the implementation of VN05-077, “Bright Future” project in the area.

As a key component of the project, series of “Gender and gender equality” training courses have been held in Ngan Son, Bac Kan from April, 2018. The training provided representatives from seven communes with skills and understanding on gender issues and help them deliver similar courses for their communities. Doanh Thi Ngan, a trainee in Thuong An shared: “We have gained a lot of useful information on gender equality and could apply it into our daily life thanks to the course”. 

Participants in Thuong An joining an activity led by a trainer from their own commune to understand more about gender roles

Participants in Thuong An joining an activity led by a trainer from their own commune to understand more about gender roles

 “Aiming at raising public understanding gender inequality as well as to equip attendants with tools and skills to apply the knowledge into daily life, we are trying to get the knowledge conveyed in the most suitable way to fit with the local context” said Pham Thi Oanh, a trainer from Na Phac.

The training course received positive feedbacks on its outcome from participants of both genders

The training course received positive feedbacks on its outcome from participants of both genders

The activity is expected to create a firm basis for the project’s following phases in the near future.

ChildFund Vietnam has been supporting community development programs in seven communes of Na Phac, Lang Ngam, Thuan Mang, Thuong Quan, Thuong An, Trung Hoa, and Coc Dan of Ngan Son district since 2016. ChildFund’s programs focus on education, water and sanitation, sustainable livelihoods, child rights and child protection, food security, mother and child healthcare including HIV prevention. ChildFund also prioritises building resilience for the youth by providing them with opportunities to play sports, to get career and life skill training and supporting them in making decisions in their communities.


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