The United Nation’s Fund for Women’s Development and its collaboration with Vietnam Women’s Union
In 1996, at the initiative of the UN Security Council in response to thecall for actions on elimination of violence against women by Beijing Conference on Women, UNIFEM established the Trust Fund to support projects/activities for preventing and eliminating violence against women.
Starting its relations with the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) since 1990, up to date, UNIFEM has supported VWU 10 projects/activities, with the total funding of more than USD 500,000. Although the UNIFEM’s financial support for VWU is not as big as that of other UN agencies such as UNICEF, UNFPA.... but is very significant to VWU. All UNIFEM projects have been pioneering in helping VWU to meet its practical and urgent needs in various periods and to address the women’s critical issues.
The first activity of the cooperation between the two organizations was the gender awareness raising workshop held in 1990 in Hanoi for leaders of the VWU, various ministries and agencies,then several similar workshops for VWU staff were organized at Women’s Training Schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. These are the very first gender awareness raising workshops ever seen in Vietnam.
The project on “Handloom weaving for ethnic women in Hoa Binh province” with the total budget of USD 202,216 was the biggest project funded by UNIFEM and implemented by Hoa Binh WU in early 1990s. The project helped women to generate their incomes by recovering their traditional occupation through provision of revolving loans, improvement of weaving tools andtechnical training for women. UNIFEM also supported VWU a project titled “women and fish processing in Hai Phong” implemented by Hai Phong WU with the total budget of USD 134,200. The main project activities were assisting women in their production, technical support and marketing fish products. These projects enabled VWU to pilot new models for women’s activities with new operational approaches and substance in the informal economic sector in the transition from a planned economy into market oriented economy.
The other UNIFEM 3-year research project(1993-1996) on “strengthening VWU capacity” was very significant. Its main activities included the research on the impact of macroeconomic policies on women, assessment of VWU institutional capacity anddevelop a Plan of Actionbased on the research’s findings and recommendations to enhance VWU institutional capacity and advocate for the implementation of this Plan of Actions, training for VWU staff on negotiation skills. Thanks to this project, VWU has a comprehensive strategy on its institutional strengthening, enabling VWU to work outappropriate interventions in better response to the issues faced by the Vietnamese women in the new situation.
UNIFEM is among the leading organizations supporting VWU in prevention of domestic violence against women. The project “Prevention of domestic violence against women” with the total budget of USD 55,000 was implemented by VWU within 2000-2003. Its main activities areto assessthe situation of domestic violence against women, to develop training and communication kits, organize awareness raising campaign and develop direct interventions model in the 12 communes/wards of the 6 provinces/cities. Through project activities, awareness on this issue of the leaders, various sectors and public has been significantly raised, domestic violence against women is no longer seen as a private matter but a social issue that should be addressed. The project has influenced VWU to propose to the Government to build a law on gender equality in Vietnam.
The Project “Gender interventions in HIV/AIDS prevention” with the total funding of more than USD 40,000 for 1999-2003 is the first VWU project on integrating gender into HIV/AIDS prevention activities. Through training workshops on gender in HIV/AIDS prevention for officers from various concerned ministries/branches and media and communication campaign in the communities, the project has attracted higher attention of the leaders at all levels and communities, thus contributing to minimization of impact of HIV/AIDS epidemic, stigma and discrimination towards HIV/AIDS affected people, especially women.
With the above-said pioneer, diversified and practical support and with its mandate and missions for the development of women worldwide, UNIFEM has been an important partner of VWU in activities for the sake of the Vietnamese women.