15,000 Women in Lao Cai, Son La Provinces Thrive in Aus4Equality GREAT Program
|At the event. Photo: Australian Embassy in Vietnam|
The Australian-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) program hosted a symposium, Engaging Women in Markets – Scaling up Local Successes Nationwide, in Hanoi on May 27.
The event attracted nearly 300 participants, including from the Government of Vietnam, the local agencies in Lao Cai and Son La, the local communities, businesses, and the development sector.
Throughout the day, the GREAT program team and Government of Vietnam representatives discussed evidence and lessons learned from the GREAT Programme that can help inform Vietnam’s National Target Programmes (NTPs) implementation, according to VNA.
The NTPs and GREAT both aspire to stronger socio-economic opportunities in Vietnam’s northwest region, particularly for the ethnic communities that call the region home.
GREAT is Australia’s most significant gender investment in Vietnam, totaling AUD 33.7 million (USD 24.1 million).
The program works with businesses, NGOs, government, and civil society partners to build a more inclusive business and market systems within the agriculture and tourism sectors in Son La and Lao Cai provinces.
It also works to ensure that local women and ethnic minorities actively participate in and benefit from related economic activities and growth.
The GREAT Programme began in 2017 and is now entering a second phase which will see the program extended to 2027.
|Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie speaks at the event. Photo: Australian Embassy in Vietnam|
Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Robyn Mudie, has opened the GREAT Symposium and Summation Workshop with an inspiring reflection on all that the program has achieved in relation to gender equality and more inclusive agriculture and tourism markets in Lao Cai and Son La.
Ambassador Mudie acknowledged the many strong and engaged partners that ensure the success of GREAT, and reminded us all that, despite the successes, there is still a lot of important work to be done to continue to ensure women, including ethnic women, have the opportunities to access and fully engage in economic opportunities.
Nguyen Thanh Hai and Le Hong Phong from the project management boards in Son La and Lao Cai shared the experience of delivering GREAT, particularly the lessons learned in relation to improving the agriculture and tourism sectors while actively working to promote the economic empowerment of women.
“Over the past five years of implementing GREAT with the program team, we have stronger evidence of what works and what needs to be improved specific to our provincial contexts,” Phong said. “We are now actively working to increase the participation of women in these sectors as this is good for women and their families, good for business, and good for the economy. We look forward to applying the lessons from GREAT to the implementation of the NTPs.”
Addressing at the event, Lao Cai Women’s Union Chairwoman, Ha Thi Khanh Nguyet spoke about the importance of digital inclusion when it comes to empowering women entrepreneurs. Many women face barriers to digital business solutions due to a lack of access to the right technology, poor digital literacy, language, and education levels. This can be particularly true for ethnic women.
However, these barriers can be overcome with education and training and the designing of digital solutions to meet business needs. Increased digital inclusion is resulting in women entrepreneurs in Lao Cai successfully establishing and expanding their business, and creating employment and economic opportunities for others as they do so.
|Quynh Anh Vu, GREAT Deputy Team Leader introducing the stories of change of the GREAT women and men to participants. Photo: Australian Embassy in Vietnam|
Symposium participants also heard from successful women entrepreneurs from the two provinces, who provided advice on how governments and businesses can better support women, including those from ethnic minorities, to not only access economic opportunities, but to thrive in work and business.
On the occasion, GREAT’s business and education partners provided an update on the establishment of business services and support for the agriculture and tourism sectors in the northwest, including improved access to finance, digital inclusion and the availability of market-driven skills training.
The skills of just some of these women were shared with all in an evening market, cooking show and cultural performances. Symposium attendees had the opportunity to sample the products, produce and experiences that the governments, communities and businesses of Son La and Lao Cai aspire to harness as they pursue inclusive, sustainable economic development.
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