Growing up together with development of Vietnam Women's Union

At the end of April 2004, Jaap Voeten, a lecturer-cum-advisor of maastricht school of management (MSM-Holland), a technical consultant to vwu project on "Training women about small and micro enterprises", was presented with the medal "for the cause of women's emancipation" by VWU Vice President Nguyen Phuong Minh for his great contribution to the advancement of women and women entrepreneurs in Vietnam. through his cooperation with VWU over the past ten years, his skills have developed along with the development of VWU.

In 1991, as a consultant at the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute, Jaap worked with VWU for the first time to organize an international workshop o­n women and health, held in April 1992. Since 1994, although officially holding a position as the project's consultant or working voluntarily, he has as­sisted VWU in creating 3 projects to support women entrepreneurs who wished to enlarge their small aquatic products businesses with cooperation and financial assist­ance of EU and some Dutch NGOs such as ProFound, Bilance, CORDAID.


Additionally, as a close friend and "VWU’s special ambas­sador", Jaap has contributed his heart to strengthening cooperation between VWU and the MSM since the 1990s, when management was still a new aspect of VWU,s activi­ties. Meanwhile, the "special am­bassador" enriched his professional potential and deep-rooted knowl­edge about Vietnam and VWU, which later helped him become an expert MSM lecturer. Since 1997, Jaap has played an essential role in the design and implemention of the US $4 million project o­n ''Train­ing women for small and micro enterprises", which is funded by Dutch Government. As an interna­tional coordinator in the first phase (1997-2000), and technical advisor in the second phase of the project (2001-2004), he actively supported management for the project. VWU and Jaap received good news when the project was selected as o­ne of the two most successful projects of SAIL (International fund for promoting education of Dutch Government). The project, includ­ing Jaap's contribution, has played an essential role in strengthening women's roles in Vietnam by as­sisting the heads of small and mi­cro business and creating more jobs to eliminate poverty and hunger.


Over time, Jaap has become so close with women entrepreneurs in several provinces that many of them call him by his Vietnamese name, "Giap," which is similar to his original name. During the mi­cro and small enterprise training,Jaap, as a representative of the MSM, worked closely with VWU in locating and securing new spon­sors. In 2004, the cooperation brought VWU financial assistance of 1.8 million Euros to implement another project to strengthen ca­pacities in training and studying for women entrepreneurs, which was funded by the Dutch International cooperation for university educa­tion. Jaap was appointed the project's co-director by the sponsor and MSM.


Jaap Voeten's family life is also linked to Vietnam. His wife had fol­lowed him to visit Vietnam and VWU when she was Mr. Voeten's girlfriend. His second daughter, Emma, was born and grew up in a small house in Nghi Tam Flower village in the suburbs of Hanoi. Emma's elder brother, Tonni, 6, still remembers the street cries at his hamlet in Hanoi though he is living in Holland at present. Jaap and his wife say they will try to help Emma return Vietnam when she is older. "At that time, she will be old enough to follow her parents to contribute to the land of her birth," many VWU’s cadres be­lieve. Personally, Jaap has had to face many challenges while living in Vietnam, when he contracted an illness that determined be would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Many VWU cadres cannot forget the image of Jaap's depar­ture when his wife, a slim women, accompanied two small children as her husband dragged his heavy feet through Noi Bai air­port. They had to return to their home country in order to arrange treatments for Jaap. At that time, no o­ne could be sure that he would be able to come back to Vietnam.


With deep-rooted experience in Vietnam, Jaap Voeten continuously shares his knowledge and practices a progressive work ethic. He plays a vital role in fostering the relationship between the MSM and VWU and other partners, especially in implementing develop­ment projects for business­women - a new action area for VWU. He is a western man who is always willing to help the Vietnamese, including play the flute o­n a popular television program. Throughout his collaboration with the VWU, Jaap always accompanies VWU’s cadres, shares difficulties and challenges, not o­nly in the position of a consultant and colleague, but as a friend, in the most compre­hensive meaning of the word. Faithful international friends, such as Jaap Voeten and VWU, will continuously strive to provide more useful activities for more and more women in Vietnam.

Women of Vietnam Review