A Jrai woman in Đức Cơ District, Gia Lai Province feed cows she bought using a preferential loan for near-poor households. Providing ethnic women with essential skills including starting-up and running a business can help them escape poverty and promote gender equality. — VNA/VNS Photo Trần Việt
HÀ NỘI — Equipping ethnic women with start-up skills can accelerate gender equality and women's empowerment, experts said on Monday at a forum co-hosted by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE) and the Canadian-based charity Artistri Sud.
Speaking at the event, Hà Việt Quân, deputy head of the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs’ Department of International Co-operation, said ethnic minority groups accounted for 14 per cent of the country’s population, but were suffering from a wide range of structural inequalities in terms of work, income, education and healthcare service due to geographical disadvantages and differences in cultural practices.
Gender inequality faced ethnic women at both family and personal levels, restricting them from raising opinions and taking leading positions, he said.
If women were offered support and provided with the necessary skills, they could unleash their own potential, earn a sustainable livelihood and contribute to the common development of their communities.
Nguyễn Thị Thuỳ Linh, director of the Centre for Community Empowerment (CECEM), said gender inequality in ethnic minority groups was not being addressed due to the ignorance of women's roles in society. Therefore, besides creating livelihoods, capacity building projects for ethnic women also needed to focus on community power and community-based initiatives.
Sùng Thị Lan, chairwoman of the Mường Hoa Co-operative in Sapa Town, Lào Cai Province, said at first she and other fellow members were reluctant to launch a business, facing barriers set by their families and society.
In 2017, the Centre for Social Initiatives Promotion (CSIP) helped them to overcome their initial difficulties, identify their strengths and develop business plans.
The co-operative now produces fashion items using Black Mông ethnic brocade, and offers homestay services.
The businesses have helped to ensure livelihoods and reduce poverty.
According to the latest data, ethnic minority groups account for 14.6 per cent of Việt Nam’s population and 63 per cent of the country’s poor households. 21 per cent of ethnic people aged from 15 years old are illiterate while only 6 per cent of them have ever received training. — VNS