Australia supports women’s empowerment in Vietnam

By Thao Vi, Thanh Nien News

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Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop tastes a dish at a ceremony introducing “Building an effective and sustainable vegetables trade and production system in north western Vietnam” project. Photo: VnExpress
Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced three packages worth US$6 million to support women’s empowerment and economic reforms in Vietnam during her recent official visit.
Following a meeting with the Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang and Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh in Hanoi on Wednesday, Bishop said Australia would provide A$2.5 million (US$2.25 million) to Vietnam through an initiative aiming to improve investment reform, rural sector restructuring and competition policy.
These reforms would help Vietnam meet its commitments under regional and international trade agreements, and lift the country’s economic competitiveness to boost its regional and global trade, she said.The initiative builds on the successes of the Beyond WTO Program, which has provided more than A$9 million (US$8.1 million) to help Vietnam gain the maximum benefits from its accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2007.
Bilateral trade between Australia and Vietnam was estimated at A$7 billion (US$6.3 billion) in the last financial year while total Australian investment here stood at A$1.5 billion (US$1.35 billion).
Earlier on Wednesday, the Australian Foreign Minister said Australia would provide a total of A$4.2 million (US$3.78 million) for two women’s empowerment projects to be delivered in partnership with the Vietnam Women’s Union.
Half of the sum will fund a new agricultural research partnership project which is expected to improve women’s lives and lift household incomes by linking farmers and traders with more lucrative markets in urban centres. This project will be delivered through the Australian Centre for Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
“Women in Vietnam play a crucial role in farming,” said Bishop.
“ACIAR’s partnership will see Australian and Vietnamese researchers collaborating to improve the profitability and sustainability of smallholder vegetable farmers in the highlands of north western Vietnam. More than 2,000 women from ethnic minority and poor, smallholder farming families will benefit in Lao Cai province alone, allowing them to increase vegetable production by around A$3.4 million (US$3 million) annually.
The remaining money will be used to combat gender-based violence in Vietnam under the Australian Government Partnerships for Development program, which provides grants to link Australian and international public sector organizations.
Bishop said domestic violence also remains a serious issue in Vietnam and gender-based violence prevents women from reaching their personal and economic potential.South Australia’s Flinders University will partner with the Vietnam Women’s Union to strengthen services for women and children experiencing violence, including through refuges and counselling, according to Bishop.

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