This was attested by the World Bank’s recent assessment, which lauded the country by stating: “Vietnam has posted the speediest change in removing the gap in gender equality in the past 20 years in the East Asia.”
|The state offers favourable conditions to increase women’s access to policy credit |
When women become the mainstay of the family
According to Lai Van Be Chin, director of VBSP’s Dong Thap branch, aside from stepping up disbursement to bring policy credit to more women beneficiaries, the bank has prioritised using this sort of capital to establish diverse and innovative production models having high spillover effects on women labourers. These models involve co-operative groups and craft villages to name but a few. Particularly, Co-operative 20-10, which has come into operation 10 years ago now, was founded by the district-level Women’s Union to create jobs for women in need.
Nguyen Cong Nghiep, deputy head of the co-operative, said that they now own eight looms, all bought from the loan package earmarked for lending to needy households the co-operative members have taken up. The co-operative has provided jobs to 27 members, helping them make an extra income to escape poverty and augment the household economy.
Besides weaving mats, Co-operative 20-10 houses four teams whose members are women from needy households in the local commune. These people and their family members have engaged in making bamboo items in their leisure time with an average income of about VND3.5 million ($150) per month.
“Our co-operative gives members jobs with a stable income. Otherwise, they would have to work as hired labourers somewhere, earning far less. This helps set their mind at ease,” Nghiep said.
Regarding needy women in An Hai commune, Binh Phuoc district in the southern province of Ninh Thuan, policy credit helps turn them into the breadwinners of their families, helping them escape poverty. The case of Chau Thi An is a stellar example. In almost nine years (2008-2016) through using VBSP’s loans released for needy households, her family managed to escape poverty by diligently raising cattle.
In 2016, An continued borrowing from VBSP to enter Tuan Tu Co-operative, which engages in growing asparagus. The family fields growing asparagus allow the family to catch harvest eight months in a year with average income of VND1.5 million ($65) per day, meaning an average VND1 million ($44) net income per day after deducting investment expenses.
Policy credit helps the women gradually improve their livelihoods to escape poverty in a sustainable manner, from there enhancing their role in their families and the society. This allows women not only to effectively take care of their families and children, but to work together with their husbands to consolidate their family finances.
The fulcrum to realise gender equality
Through the credit activities of VBSP, women have received ever-increasing credit support in both quantity and quality. VBSP’s recent report on its operation results by the end of January 2020 shows that more than 2.5 million members of the Vietnam Women’s Union took up loans VBSP has released to the Union to lend to its members, with over VND80.435 trillion ($3.5 billion) in total outstanding loans.
This took the lead in both the number of borrowers and balance among four socio-political organisations receiving authorised capital volumes from the VBSP to lend to their members. Notably, the loan balance reached VND1.56 trillion ($67.83 million) this January alone.
Overdue debt is often kept at a low level, merely 0.22 per cent of the total balance, showcasing highly efficient loan usage as well as women’s drive to overcome adversity. The deposit surplus came to VND4.636 trillion ($201.57 million), the highest level among the four socio-political organisations receiving authorised capital from VBSP. This indicates that the relevant women have been posting more stable life with savings to feed their families’ financial demands as well as investment needs.
These figures, however, do not fully reflect the credit activities of VBSP as part of women beneficiaries have been borrowing through lending groups under the Vietnam Peasants’ Association, the War Veteran Association, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, or directly from VBSP’s member units. Women borrowers reportedly account for about half of the 6.5 million households accessing loans from VBSP.
According to VBSP executives, this year and in the forthcoming years, the bank will continue effectively handling the tasks assigned by the government to lend to needy households and other policy beneficiaries, with priority granted to women. VBSP will scale up efforts to mobilise diverse capital sources to ensure the effective implementation of policy credit programmes, helping more and more people escape poverty and improve living standards sustainably.