It's no wonder the Vietnamese women's unions run the implementation and oversight of the majority of the microfinance initiatives in Vietnam, with the assistance of NGOs and microfinance institutions, to help lift women out of poverty. Vietnamese women served as military leaders, politicians, diplomats, peaceful protesters, medics, spies, farmers, mothers and teachers during the Indochina Wars (1945-1975) and the Vietnam War (or as they call it in Vietnam, the "American War"). The Vietnam Women's Union ("VWU") was founded in 1930 and has played an integral role in the women's rights movement in Vietnam, which has been intrinsically linked with the development and defense of Vietnam. The VWU currently has over 13 million members and operates at various levels (e.g., communal, provincial, national, district), which empowers it with the necessary network to implement positive changes in women's lives in Vietnam, ranging from health to education to economic empowerment.
I decided to run for an hour in 95 degree heat (maybe not the best idea? haha) yesterday to the Vietnam Women's Museum in honor of the all of the strong Vietnamese women! Here are some photos from my trip. Needless to say, I left feeling inspired by the tenacity and courage of Vietnamese women and feel that I have greater insight into the structure and origins of microfinance in Vietnam.
Women working in the field, but prepared to defend their land:
Commander Kan Lich:
Hoang Ngan female guerilla group ready to fight against the French in 1954:
Women calling for the American forces to leave Southern Vietnam at Chim Chim T-Junction:
Nguyen Thi Thap participated in the Cochinchina uprising in 1940. She also was President of the VWU from 1956 to 1974 and Vice President of the National Assembly from 1956 to 1982:
Nguyen Thi Binh was a diplomat who held the office of Foreign Minister and Chief of the delegation of the Provisional Revolutionary Government in Southern Vietnam at the Paris Conference from 1969 to 1973. She was Minister of Education (1976 - 1987), Assistant Chief of Foreign Affairs of the VCP (1987 - 1992) and Vice President of Vietnam (1992 - 2002):
Installing bamboo traps to protect their village:
Ngu Thuy Group No. 3 Artillery:
Vo Thi Mo joined the National Liberation Forces at the age of 15 after her family's home and property were destroyed. She was a member of the elite women's fighting group entitled C3 and commanded two dozen other female guerillas. She fought and spied in the tunnels of Cu Chi.
Nguyen Thi Trung Kien guiding liberation fighters:
Nguyen Thi Minh Hien fought in over 17 battles with the Vietnam People's Armed Forces:
Women on the front line of fire:
Political and technical training for clandestine missions:
Women training for battle:
Truong Thi Khue:
False identity cards held by women during the war:
La Thi Tam was in charge of locating bombs at the Crossroads of Dong Lac. For 200 days she identified 1,205 unexploded bombs, helping the sappers to detect and defuse bombs. In 1969, at the age of only 20, she received the title of "Hero of the Popular Armed Forces":
I salute all of the strong Vietnamese women of the past, present and future!