Vietnam Vietnam

Working with the ethnic minorities that make up nearly half of Vietnam's poor

Working with the ethnic minorities that make up nearly half of Vietnam's poor

Since 1989, CARE has been working with women from ethnic minority groups in the most remote areas of Vietnam to support them to have equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the country’s overall economic growth.

Vietnam has 53 minority groups who make up about 15% of the population, each with their own languages, traditions and cultural norms. These groups often face the greatest poverty and discrimination, with women being doubly disadvantaged as a result of their gender and ethnicity.

CARE prioritises the poorest and most isolated women from ethnic minorities to work with. This includes women who are socially isolated, women who are land poor and women who are most affected by external hazards and shocks. CARE also works with men in ethnic minority communities to gain their support, as well as better-off ethnic minority communities who can influence change, and we promote partnerships with community-based groups and local NGOs.

Fast Facts

Population: 96.16 million (July 2017 est.)
Life expectancy:  73.7 years (71.9 years male, 76.4 years female) (2017 est.)
Infant mortality:  17.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
Under-5 mortality*: 22 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)
Maternal mortality: 54 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Adult literacy rate: 94.5% (96.3% male, 92.8% female) (2015 est.)
Access to improved drinking water: 97.6% (99.1% urban, 96.9% rural)
Access to improved sanitation: 78% (94.4% urban, 69.7% rural)
Labour force participation rate^: (83% male, 73% female) (2014 est.)
Percentage of seats held by women in national parliament^: 27%
GDP per capita:  $6,900 (2017 est.)

Source: CIA World Factbook, *UNICEF, ^World Bank

Improving access to income

Remote ethnic minority women often experience high levels of poverty, excessively high workloads and limited opportunity to earn their own income. The remote location of ethnic minority communities means many are reliant on agriculture for income and are at greater risk of feeling the negative effects of a changing climate. Women, in particular, may lack ownership rights to their land.

CARE has established Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to provide people with a safe place to save their money and access small loans. The VSLA program has helped strengthen women’s skills to earn an income and manage their money effectively. Engagement with families, community leaders and the government ensures women from ethnic minorities can contribute to decisions about money and access to key resources such as information or land.

©Peter Caton/CARE
©Christian Berg/CARE

Developing female leaders

It is important to ensure the needs of women from remote ethnic minorities are heard by decision-makers within the government. To develop the next generation of women leaders, CARE equips women from ethnic minorities with the skills and confidence to represent themselves, have their voices heard and to form their own collectives to advocate for their needs.

CARE works with women to build their skills to support themselves and their families financially, reduce their vulnerability to violence, and increase their confidence to represent themselves effectively so they can create change for themselves.

Addressing gender-based violence

Many factors including traditional gender roles and less access to education mean women can have limited ability to influence decisions in their family or community. This also means they can be particularly vulnerable to violence.

Differing cultural norms within communities place women at greater risks, so CARE works with both men and women to change perceptions to help make people aware of the negative impacts of violence. At a national level, CARE advocates for legislative reform on gender-based violence, with a focus on the situation of ethnic minority women, and monitors to ensure such laws are fully enforced in rural areas.

mother carrying young baby in Vietnam
@Vu Thi Huong Giang/CARE
©CARE

Challenging gender stereotypes

Thi* joined agriculture activities with CARE, but it was soon realised that she was experiencing gender-based violence. She was referred to professional counselling services, and staff discussed how to ensure her safety.

When Thi and other women in her village formed a group to learn new types of agricultural production, CARE also worked with their husbands to explore gender roles and challenge the rigid gender stereotypes in the community that caused violence.

*Name has been changed to protect identity of individual

Learn more about our ongoing impact in Vietnam:

We analyse and evaluate our projects to monitor results and learn how we can improve programs. Below is a selection of recent reports on CARE’s work in Vietnam:

Other resources and highlights

The on-going work we do in Vietnam is in partnership with these local organisations: Agriculture and Forestry Research and Development Center for Northern Mountainous Region, Bac Kan Women Union, Centre of Community Development (CCD), Culture Identity and Resources Use Management (CIRUM), Department of Social Vices Prevention (under MOLISA), Green Generation Joint stock Company (GreenGen), Ha Tinh Farmer’s Union, Kien Giang Women Union, Oxfam in Vietnam, Soc Trang Centre of Flood and Storm Control (CFSC), Soc Trang Women Union, Sub Department of Social Vices Prevention-Can Tho City, Sub Department of Social Vices Prevention-Hochiminh City, Sub Department of Social Vices Prevention-Quang Ninh Province, and The Institute for Study of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE).

Banner image: ©CARE