Aus4EqualityUpdatesAustralian Delegation visit to GREAT Women’s Economic Empowerment projects in Son La

Australian Delegation visit to GREAT Women’s Economic Empowerment projects in Son La

On 12 and 13 December 2021, a delegation from the Australian Embassy in Vietnam led by Mr Mark Tattersall, Australia’s Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam visited local ethnic minority women and businesses in Son La Province, who are benefiting from the Australian-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) Program. The mission was a chance to see first-hand how emerging high-value agricultural value chains and community-based tourism are increasing income and agency for local ethnic minority women.

The visit included an inspection of Xuan Nha Clean Bamboo Shoot Cooperative in Xuan Nha Commune, Van Ho District, which is supported by GREAT’s partner Centre for Rural Development (CRED). The delegation got to hear how local women producer groups have been connected via businesses to high-value markets.  There has also been labour-saving technology introduced which means along with higher incomes, the project is also reducing the work burden for women. There was also evidence that men are sharing more household tasks and supporting their wives to participate in bamboo shoots processing and take leadership positions.

Australian delegation visited Xuan Nha Clean Bamboo Shoots Cooperative in Van Ho, Son La

Mr Tattersall and other delegates were warmly welcomed by local women at Vat Village, Moc Chau District, a community-based tourism initiative supported by GREAT’s partner Action on Poverty. Mr Tattersall highly appreciated the professionalism of the homestays and other tourism services in the village and acknowledged the great effort of the local community, especially women in responding to COVID-19 by focussing on the domestic market and increasing the production of agricultural products.

The delegation was warmly welcomed by women homestay owners in Vat Village, Moc Chau, Son La

Another highlight of the visit included a field trip to Chieng Cang Commune, Song Ma District, led by Ms Cherie Russell, the Australian Embassy’s Development Counsellor to see how a new crop, ramie, is creating opportunities for ethnic minority women. A natural fibre used in textiles, ramie is in strong demand among manufacturers in Vietnam and internationally, and has the potential to increase the incomes of local farmers by 3-4 times compared to growing corn or cassava. During the visit, Ms Russel awarded prizes to the winners of a ramie harvesting competition organised by GREAT partner HTM Dragon Company, and viewed a Photovoice exhibition where local women and men shared their stories of the change created through taking part in the ramie project.

Ms Cherie Russel awarded the first prize to the winners of the Ramie Harvesting Contest in Song Ma, Son La

Concluding the visit, Mr Tattersall remarked that he was very impressed by how local communities, government and businesses have been able to work together to co-create positive change for ethnic minority women.

“We see the women’s economic empowerment objectives of GREAT still highly relevant to the local needs and government priorities. The impact of COVID-19 has also highlighted the need to further support women who tend to be more negatively impacted by economic shocks. The Australian government is committed to continuing to partner with Vietnam to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and to build the economic resilience and empowerment of ethnic minority women,” concluded Mr Tattersall.