Writing competition about Vietnamese women in the forest

How can remote farmers improve their lives and adopt life styles that are more friendly to gender equality? In the occassion of the international Women’s day on March 8th. DFE partner “More Trees” has conducted a writing competition where locals were encouraged to write about how the forest has improved the lives of women. Read the winner story below:

“DAO” ethnic woman became a shining example for her village

By: Quang Ly, Bai hamlet, Cao Son commune, Da Bac district, Hoa Binh province

Bai is a hamlet of Cao Son commune in Da Bac district. The district is the home of the Dao ethnic group whose life style depend on the forest. Ten years ago, the people did not know how to plant forests, the economy was backward, logging and slash-and-burn were the favoured ways to uttilize the trees. The forests were gradually exhausted, the land was eroded, and the people’s lives were became ever more difficult. The area also struggled with backward customs and women suffered more disadvantages in society than men. Some could not go to school, and it was only due to the governments campaign and efford to popularize education that female students at least finished grade 9 as their highest education.

Learning to plant and tend to the forest

In 2012, with the support of More Trees training courses on reforestation and capacity building for ethnic minority women in forestry production, women began to actively participate and gain understanding about how to plant and tend forest, and how to increase income from forests. In addition, they also had the oppotunity to visit and study agroforestry models. Since then, people have applied what they have learned on their own land. And this has gradually changed the lives of the people in Cao Son. Children receive more education as many families can pay tuition for their children to attend in colleges and universities. The women’s roles have also been improved, and their voices are now respected in family’s decisions.

Trieu Thi Nhat from Bai hamlet, Cao Son commune is an example of this. Instead of hanging around in small fields or going to the forest to pick bamboo shoots and wild vegetables every day as she used to do, she has applied what she learned in a Farmer Field School (FFS) organized by More Trees project. Following the training she boldly borrowed VND 30 million from VBSP to buy seedlings and 100 chicken.

Everyday, she and her husband work diligently to reclaim the barren hills and plant trees to improve the land. Up to now, her family have planted more than 2ha of forest. The first rotatin of trees have been harvested and the courages couple are preparing to plant a new rotation. Her flock of chicken have now increased to about 2,000. Her family life has been improved, she has built a spacious house and is able to afford to pay tuition for her children.

In 8 years, Trieu Thi Nhat and her husband have gone from being one of the poor households in the commune. She is a shining example of local economic development, and has been praised by the Women’s Union. Her family’s achievements have contributed to highlighting the beautiful image of an ethnic minority woman who has worked hard and creative, and deserve to be an example for women in her neighborhood to follow