Vietnam Time

10/7/2018 6:25:11 PM

Girls Take Over: Empowering girls to learn, lead, decide and thrive tomorrow

To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, 100 girls representing 13 million girls across Vietnam will lead the Girls’ Forum 2018 at the National Assembly Office on October 7.

The event, with this year's theme "Empower girls to learn, lead, decide and thrive", was co-held by the National Assembly's Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescent and Children, the Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs and the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union together with Plan International Vietnam.

Girls need to live in a safer and more equal environment, and to take part in decisions that affect their well being, in order to build a generation of female leaders that are always ready for change in the future, said the organisers.

Girl representatives share what they experience, the challenges and barriers they have to face every day. Photo: Plan

Let their voice be heard

At the forum, girl representatives have delivered outstanding presentations with strong messages about "Girls' safety in public spaces" and "Early marriage and consequences" to governmental leaders at Central and Local levels, and create conditions for girls to participate in the building and implementation of relevant policies and laws.

“Safer Cities” group began the forum with actual facts about the state of girls' safety in public spaces.

"When girls talk about their problems, adults tend to overlook them. They haven't truly paid attention to us, and value us less than boys," they said.

The solution which was presented by this group to tackle the state of girls' safety in public spaces is a set of 4 phrases. First, SAY NO: verbally response to harassment/abuse. Second, RUN AWAY: actively avoid to be in dangerous places. Third, SPEAK OUT: sharing with relatives about inappropriate behaviors. Finally, REPORT: Report to policemen, local authorities about the harassment/abuse.

Girls of "Hoa Ban" group, representing ethnic minority groups in the mountainous northern region shared about early marriage and its consequences to a girl's health and education , providing a deeper and more realistic insights on the barriers that they are fighting to overcome for their rights to learn and to thrive.

They stated a very common "loop" that are present in many ethnic girls' lives, which is (1) Early marriage >> (2) Giving birth to many children >> (3) Affecting economic status >> (4) Children dropping out of school >> (5) Child labor >> Back to (1).

Girl representatives of Quang Binh and Quang Tri talked about "Di Sim" practice of Van Kieu ethnic group and the consequences of early marriage. They point out 3 reasons for this including Lack of knowledge about reproductive health; Lack of knowledge about early marriage consequences and Difficult economic circumstances leading to them dropping out of school and getting marriage early.

A girl representative states her question in the second part of the forum “Dialogue”. Photo: Plan

First steps to respond to the girls' call for action

In the second part of the forum “Dialogue”, girl representatives questioned about how to change society's negative perceptions of girl victims of sexual harassment/abuse and specific program to increase public awareness of early marriage.

Luong Phan Cuong, Chairman of the Association for the Support of Vietnamese Handicapped and Orphans, replies that "To protect girls with disabilities from sexual harassment and abuse, we need support and cooperation from government institutions, CSOs and individuals. Coordinating with NGOs and CSOs in advocating to raise the community's awareness of the issues is also crucial."

According to Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai, Director of Committee of Family and Children, Women's Union, the rate of early marriage in the mountainous part of the Northern region, the Central, Tay Nguyen highland and South Eastern region is high. To resolve this problem, Women's Union corporate with other stakeholders to organize communications events to raise awareness of school dropping out and early marriage.

Especially, Women's Union corporates with Plan International Vietnam to implement and scale up Parenting group model to increase knowledge of school drop out and early marriage as well as parenting and child protecting skills

Leaders of National Assembly and Ministries, Committees are committing to resolve two problems acknowledged in the Forum to ensure that girls have the rights to become leaders of the nation’s future.

In the afternoon, the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescent, and Children held a follow-up meeting with Plan International Vietnam and representatives of central and local governments. Together, the government and Plan examined the girls’ opinions from the forum, assigned responsibilities and planned a specific strategy to empower child rights, especially girls’ rights according to the duty of each agency./.

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