Successful kick-off of gender transformative dialogues in Vietnam


Women's capacity for entrepreneurship is limited by a series of structural barriers, including those that are related to gender norms and women’s role within the larger society, their community, their business environment and their households. Under the “Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises” (EOWE) programme, SNV aims to identify and accelerate a transformation of key gender norms that prevent women’s and men’s full participation in society and/or in the economic arena. In July 2017 SNV kicked-off the Gender Transformative Dialogue intervention, a key intervention of EOWE’s Social and Behaviour Change Communication Strategy to have a transformative effect on gender relations.

The Gender Transformative Dialogues are community level meetings, in which selected farming households will discuss and reflect on key gender norms and unequal power relation between men and women in the household. As part of the kick-off, SNV provided a Training of Trainers (ToT) for selected staff of the provincial and district Women’s Union from the four EOWE target provinces in Vietnam, Quang Binh, Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan. Through the training, which was held from 4-7 July 2017 in Ninh Thuan province, the provincial Women’s Union staff acquired the knowledge and the skills to train Women’s Union staff at commune level to become facilitators of the gender transformative dialogues. Besides the Women’s Union, the training was attended by other representatives from SNV partners in the target provinces, including the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Agricultural Extension Centers (AECs).

During the training, SNV built a common understanding on key gender concepts and emphasised why gender equality is important to household economic and enterprise development. Furthermore, SNV trained the Women’s Union staff on how to facilitate discussions and reflections on key gender norms among female and male farmers using gender transformative tools. The key gender norm that will be addressed in 2017 is time-use, as our baseline studies showed that time-use is a major barrier to women’s economic empowerment.

Staff of district Women's Union explains about gender differences in time-use

After the theoretical training, the participants were ready to practice their newly acquired skills and the tools during a pilot dialogue with 15 farmer couples who are members of the Tuan Tu asparagus cooperative and 12 farmer couples of Ho Hai commune in Ninh Thuan province. During the pilot, the trainees practiced and improved their facilitation skills, which increased their confidence to apply gender transformative tools and facilitate the dialogue among farmers.

During the pilot, key gender inequality issues, such as gender inequality in labor division or the burden of household and caring tasks for women were identified. Through the use of different tools the farmers mapped the time spend on income-generating and household tasks, as well as social and relaxation activities. After the mapping activities, husbands and wives identified the problems that they wanted to work on and created a vision for change. “I found my husband different in the evening after one day training and dialogue. He is more caring”, says a female farmer who participated in the dialogue. The gender inequality issues that were identified during the first dialogue will be used as central topics for the next dialogues.

Male farmer presents his vision for change within his household

In the coming months the representatives from the provincial and district Women’s Unions will train Women’s Union staff at commune level in EOWE project areas to become facilitators of the gender transformative dialogues. After the training the commune level Women’s Unions will roll-out the Gender Transformative Dialogue Facilitation sessions in different cooperatives in the four EOWE target provinces in Vietnam. Mrs. Huyen from the Women’s Union in Quang Binh province expressed her gratitude after the training. “I want to thank SNV for organising this inspiring training. The content and methods are very interesting and useful. I learned a lot and I recommend to organise such events more often for all provinces under the EOWE project in order to share and learn from each other.”