Marie Schlei Association and its contribution to Vietnamese poor women

Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) founded in 1930 is a socio-political organization which is mandated to protect the legal rights and legitimate interests of women in Vietnam. In the history of its development, particularly since DOI MOI (Renovation), VWU has taken various measures such as vocational training, loans providing, awareness raising, and technical transferring, ect. to help women in poverty alleviation for their livelihood improvement and social status enhancement. To realize its missions, besides internal resources, VWU also mobilized and made use of international support from donors (GOs and NGOs) including Marie Schlei Association (Germany).

The cooperation between VWU and Marie Schlei has been set up and developed for over the last ten years. Marie Schlei has supported VWU to implement seven projects targeting rural, poor and disadvantaged women in seven provinces in the Northern and Central Vietnam namely Lai Chau, Son La, Hai Phong, Hung Yen, Ha Tay[1], Quang Ninh and Quang Binh with a total fund of over 200,000 US dollars.


Generally, all the projects focus o­n two main components including capacity building through training o­n technical matter & management and loan provision. In Marie Schlei supported projects, beside vocational training o­n tofu production,edible cannas growing, vermicelli production, safe vegetable farming, flowers growing, mushroom cultivating and palm-leaf conical hat making which help women in job creation, income generation, women beneficiaries also have opportunities to obtain knowledge o­n household economy management, product marketing, environment and food hygiene, child raising, happy family building-up. With its seven projects, Marie Schlei has initially provided training for 995 women and supported loans for 650 women with the total loan amount of 1,411,000,000 VND equivalent to more than 80,000 US dollars (according to the project papers). With the knowledge and vocational skills gained from the training as the basic tools and the loan supported as the initial investment in production, women beneficiaries can earn income for themselves and their family, thus contributing to improve their life quality. Higher income helps women afford tuition fees for their children’s education, health care costs, purchase household furniture such as TV, refrigerator, motorbike or expand their production and improve living conditions such as: electricity, sanitary facilities, safe water and ect.


All seven Marie Schlei’s projects in Vietnam focus o­n socio-economic aspects with much attention to the local environment.


The projects in the areas of VACR (system of garden, pond, animal sty and forest) in Lai Chau, tofu production in Son La, safe vegetable farming in Ha Tay, flowers growing in Hai Phong, mushroom cultivating in Hung Yen have been sustained bringing practical benefits for local women.


Over last 5 years, the project o­n edible cannas growing and vermicelli producing in Binh Lieu district, Quang Ninh province which targets women of ethnic minorities in remote areas has been supported by Marie Schlei. After being trained, women can grow edible cannas with bulbs of bigger size and higher contents of powder. The vermicelli produced has higher quality. The vermicelli thread is fine, clean and without gritty. As a result, the selling price was increased from 15,000VND/kg in 2004 to 25,000VND/kg in 2005. At present, the selling price of Binh Lieu vermicelli is 50,000VND/kg. Binh Lieu vermicelli brand has registered and was promoted at the Vietnamese Products Fair in October 2007. Meanwhile in Vien Son commune, Son Tay town, Ha Noi City (former Ha Tay province), the local authorities highly appreciate the project of safe vegetable farming since it has created a practice of growing vegetable in a safe way: using clean water for irrigation; properly using processed organic fertilizer and chemical insecticides, thus saving the environment sanitation and farmers and consumers’ health.


The projects funded by Marie Schlei have made great contribution to the VWU’s institutional development. Through the projects, more women are attracted to become VWU’s members. The projects have contributed not o­nly to increasing income, improving the life quality for women and community members in the project sites, but also attracted their more active involvement in WU’s activities, thus contributing to help VWU to better implement its activities and realize its objectives.


Moreover, in the projects, women beneficiaries have opportunity to pay visit to other localities which have the same occupation to exchange their experiences and knowledge in production. This activity helps improve women’s production and create linkages between women in different localities. Through loan support, women set up savings groups which have regular meetings so that women can gather for exchanges and discussions o­n different topics such as: production, family planning, reproductive health care, food safety…The group fund which has been formed from member savings with a rate of VND 10,000-20,000/member/month is loaned out to group members. Thanks to the savings groups’ activities, women get closer and become more helpful to o­ne another, especially when a group member faces difficulties.


Through the implementation of these development projects, the cooperation between VWU and Marie Schlei Association has been reinforced and developed. The number of projects supported has been increased in quantity and size with more diverse activities/areas. The number of beneficiaries has been increased accordingly. Annually, VWU of different levels including the women beneficiaries at grassroots level are very pleased to meet Ms. Christa Randzio Plath as Marie Schlei’s representative during her monitoring missions to Vietnam. This is an opportunity for her to get exposed to the project activities and achievements in the field.


The local authorities in the project sites highly appreciate the support from Marie Schlei as well as the efforts made by the WU of different levels for making the projects possible which have brought about not o­nly economic but also social impacts o­n the life of women and their families as well as the local development.


On the occasion of 25th Anniversary of Marie Schlei Association, the WU of different levels, particularly in the project sites and the local beneficiaries show gratitude to Marie Schlei for its valuable contribution for the advancement and development of women and the VWU in the past years and expect for further cooperation and effective support from Marie Schlei in the future.

[1]Recently Ha Tay was merged into the Capital City of Hanoi

Int’l Relations Dept