Throughout the day, the GREAT program team and Government of Vietnam representatives discussed evidence and lessons learned from the GREAT Program that can help inform Vietnam’s National Target Programs (NTPs) implementation. The NTPs and GREAT both aspire to stronger socio-economic opportunities in Vietnam’s northwest region, particularly for the ethnic communities that call the region home.

Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie talks to a successful woman joining the project in Son La province at the symposium.

GREAT is Australia’s most significant gender investment in Vietnam, totaling AUD 33.7 million (USD 24.1 million). The program works with businesses, NGOs, government and civil society partners to build more inclusive business and market systems within the agriculture and tourism sectors in Son La and Lao Cai provinces. It also works to ensure that local women and ethnic minorities actively participate in and benefit from related economic activities and growth.

The GREAT Program began in 2017 and is now entering a second phase which will see the program extended to 2027.

Nguyen Thanh Hai, from the Project Management Board in Son La, and Le Hong Phong from the Project Management Board in Lao Cai shared the experience of delivering GREAT, particularly the lessons learned in relation to improving the agriculture and tourism sectors while actively working to promote the economic empowerment of women.

“Over the past five years of implementing GREAT with the program team, we have stronger evidence of what works and what needs to be improved specific to our provincial contexts,” Phong said. “We are now actively working to increase the participation of women in these sectors as this is good for women and their families, good for business and good for the economy. We look forward to applying the lessons from GREAT to the implementation of the NTPs.”

“This success belongs to all GREAT partners - the Provincial Governments of Son La and Lao Cai, and the businesses, civil society organizations and communities that GREAT works with,” said the Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie.

“Today is an opportunity to look forward with joint ambition to take this success to scale. Together, we can benefit more businesses through stronger market connections and, most importantly, empower more women to participate in these markets,” she added.

Symposium participants also heard from successful women entrepreneurs from the two provinces, who provided advice on how governments and businesses can better support women, including those from ethnic minorities, to not only access economic opportunities, but to thrive in work and business.

On the occasion, GREAT’s business and education partners provided an update on the establishment of business services and support for the agriculture and tourism sectors in the northwest, including improved access to finance, digital inclusion and the availability of market-driven skills training.

The skills of just some of these women were shared with all in an evening market, cooking show and cultural performances. Symposium attendees had the opportunity to sample the products, produce and experiences that the governments, communities and businesses of Son La and Lao Cai aspire to harness as they pursue inclusive, sustainable economic development.

Source: VNA