Women’s Economic Empowerment in Agribusiness

On 26 December, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU) organised a high-level forum to discuss challenges and opportunities for women and their agribusinesses in Vietnam. This forum was organised under SNV’s “Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises” project, which is funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In her opening remarks, Ms. Eizema (Chargé d’Affaires of the Dutch Embassy in Hanoi) addressed the so-called ‘double burden’: the unfair expectation of women that they have to be successful both in their work or enterprise, and in taking care of their family.

The event aimed to create a movement to accelerate women’s economic empowerment by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders from the public and private sector and local and international organisations, including Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue, Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, member of the Party Central Committee, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women’s Union, Mrs. Pauline Eizema, Deputy Ambassador of the Dutch Embassy to Vietnam and representatives of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).

Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue highlighted the importance of women in agribusinesses, not only for economic development, but also as a decisive factor to ensure gender equality. “In 2013, more than 100,000 female-led enterprises generated 1.63 million jobs and contributed 32.4 trillion Vietnam Dong to the national revenue and therefore to the economic stability of Vietnam as a country”, explained Mr. Vuong Dinh Hue. However, figures show that these enterprises only account for 26.8% of all SMEs and that the proportion of female entrepreneurs declines when the scale of the enterprise becomes larger. Female entrepreneurs encounter various obstacles and existing policies lack enforcement and necessary guidance which limits women to reach their full potential in economic activities and society.

“This forum and SNV’s “Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises” project are about addressing these barriers and unfair expectations that stand in the way of equal opportunities for men and women”, said Ms. Pauline Eizema, Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Vietnam, during her opening speech. The forum focused on clarifying the role of women’s economic empowerment as a tool to promote gender equality by creating equal opportunities for men and women in accessing opportunities and resources.

The event provided a platform to share experiences and to discuss the best ways to unlock the power of women to effectively start and run their own businesses. As part of the event, two successful female entrepreneurs shared their stories on barriers and opportunities towards success with the audience. These two cases were analysed by economists and gender experts to identify the key barriers to gender equality and resulted in recommendations for start-up support policies for female entrepreneurs.

"I am glad that the Vietnamese government, the international community and civil society in Vietnam recognize that inequality means lost potential", said Ms. Eizema. “We are proud that SNV is implementing this programme in Vietnam and together we will promote gender equality, create opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship, and ultimately unlock that full potential for Vietnam’s inclusive growth."

The ‘Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises (EOWE)’, implemented by SNV Netherlands Development Organization in Vietnam, is financed by the “Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW)” fund from The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This global fund from the Netherlands – consisting of a budget of EUR 93 million for 2016-2020 – aims to improve the position of women and girls in developing and middle-income countries.