The Australian-funded Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) programme hosted the symposium Engaging Women in Markets – Scaling up Local Successes Nationwide in Hanoi on May 27.
|Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie talked to a woman joining the project in Sơn La Province at the symposium
Attendees included Australian and Vietnamese government representatives, the private sector, and civil society organisations. Ethnic minority women were also represented, and the event concluded with an evening market and cooking show.
Throughout the day, the GREAT team and government representatives discussed evidence and lessons learned from the programme that can help inform Vietnam’s National Target Programmes (NTP) implementation. The NTPs and GREAT both aspire to stronger socioeconomic opportunities in Vietnam’s northwest region, particularly for the ethnic communities that call the region home.
GREAT is Australia’s most significant gender investment in Vietnam, totalling $24 million. The programme works with businesses, NGOs, government, and civil society partners to build a more inclusive business and market systems within the agriculture and tourism sectors in Son La and Lao Cai provinces. It also works to ensure that local women and ethnic minorities actively participate in and benefit from related economic activities and growth.
The GREAT programme began in 2017 and is now entering a second phase which will see the programme extended to 2027. It is implemented in partnership with the Son La and Lao Cai provincial governments. The symposium was an important step in further cementing these partnerships.
Nguyen Thanh Hai from the Son La provincial government and Le Hong Phong from the Lao Cai provincial government both shared the experience of delivering GREAT, particularly the lessons learned in relation to improving the agriculture and tourism sectors while actively working to promote the economic empowerment of women.
“Over the past five years of implementing GREAT, we have stronger evidence of what works and what needs to be improved specifically to our provincial contexts. We are now actively working to increase the participation of women in these sectors as this is good for women and their families, good for business, and good for economy. We look forward to applying the lessons from GREAT to the implementation of the NTPs,” said Phong.
The Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie delivered the opening address and acknowledged the success achieved by GREAT and its partners.
“This success belongs to all GREAT partners, the provincial governments of Son La and Lao Cai, the businesses, civil society organisations, and communities that GREAT works with. Today is an opportunity to look forward with the joint ambition to take this success to scale. Together, we can benefit more businesses through stronger market connections and, most importantly, empower more women to participate in these markets,” said Ambassador Mudie.
Symposium participants also heard from successful female entrepreneurs from Lai Cai and Son La provinces, who shared their experience of working with GREAT in the agriculture and tourism sectors. The women also provided advice on how governments and businesses can better support women, including those from ethnic minorities, to not only access economic opportunities, but to thrive in work and business.
GREAT’s business and education partners also provided an update on the establishment of business services and support for the agriculture and tourism sectors in the northwest, including improved access to finance, digital inclusion, and the availability of market-driven skills training. All of these services have been designed with the needs of women in mind, including issues such as language and literacy.