Empowering every woman’s agency forms the building blocks to sustainable peace. 29-year old Co Nga* lives in Nga Son in Thanh Hoa province in Vietnam. She was dependent on her husband’s income. She was untrained, unemployed and unable to contribute to her family’s wellbeing and to her own. But things have changed for Co Nga. She is now a seasonal weaver at Viet Trang.
The district of Nga Son, where Co Nga lives, produces what is considered to be the best quality of seagrass in the country. Viet Trang employs disadvantaged groups to produce high quality and sustainable sea grass handicraft products. It has recruited and trained local women with children such as Co Nga to become full-time or seasonal workers.
“Before working at Viet Trang, I relied on my husband’s income. Now I can make extra income and my whole family has benefitted a lot because of Viet Trang. Everyone is very supportive. When I first joined I didn’t have a lot of weaving skills, but Viet Trang was very patient and taught me new skills.”
Despite Vietnam having a relatively high rate of women in the labor force, women still constitute the majority of the unemployed population – about 57% of untrained and unemployed adults. Viet Trang does not just empower women with a new form of independence, they also help women provide for their children and families. As a consequence of poverty, one out of four Vietnamese children under the age of five was malnourished in 2017. 43-year-old Trang*, who is a full-time weaver at Viet Trang, says, “I used to have a very low salary. Now I have enough to feed my family. If I did not work for Viet Trang, I would not have enough to eat. I like working at Viet Trang because it is flexible and I can work with my own strengths.”
When given the opportunity, women have the unique power to reshape their lives, their families, and their communities. When given the opportunity, women can also become part of the solution for a more just and resilient future. IIX is proud to be part of the movement with Viet Trang to empower women to become sustainable peacebuilders.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.