A medical worker gives advice to La Hu ethnic women in northern mountainous Lai Chau ​province  (Photo: VNA)
Experts at a women's empowerment forum, held on September 23 in Hanoi, agreed that although more women are taking part in social and civic activities, few ethnic minorities or disabled women join the activities.

The "Give her an opportunity" forum, attended by leaders and workers from more than 20 social organisations, focused on how to get these marginalised voices included in the conversation.

Several shared the lessons learned from running programmes to improve women's lives and positions in rural and remote mountainous areas.

Don Tuan Phuong, Director of the Vietnam Centre for Sustainable Development Studies, a social organisation in Hanoi, said that many ethnic minorities and disabled women lacked access to health and education services.

He reported that many are banned from joining economic development activities, therefore they depend on husbands and have no voice in their family.

"Connecting social organisations, giving them useful information and creating opportunities for them to talk to policymakers and agencies will help them," he said, "and help gender equality in the country."

The Vietnam Women Improving Lives and Leadership project, funded by the US Department of State and implemented by the Kenan Vietnam organisation and local partners, organised the event.

The project, working in Hanoi and Hoa Binh province, advocates on behalf of Vietnamese women by developing the capacities of civil and social organisations that focus on health, education, disability and economic development.

A member of the project and participant at the forum, Phan Kim Thoa, Deputy Head of the Committee for Publicity and Education of the Hoa Binh Farmers' Association, said she hoped more forums would be organised. She said they give a chance for women to exchange ideas about the issues that affect them and get the attention of policymakers and Government leaders.-VNA