My husband brings me my Coat and Parasol

Vietnam: Binh Thi Tran, 45, works as a lecturer and researcher at the Forestry University in Hanoi. In her opinion, forestry is a tough job, especially for women. When she goes to the field with her students they have to walk far, sometimes through streams and sometimes in pouring rain, and when she comes home exhausted she still has to do the housework, assist her children with homework and play with them.

“I have made a lot of effort to not let the work affect my personal life,” she explains and continues: “When I started this job, my husband was not very happy because I left home early and came back late. He thought that teaching was a leisure job with a lot of spare time for the family, but his wife always looked rough and messy like a farmer! Fortunately, with time, my husband has come to understand my job and he takes care of me: He gives me a parasol on sunny days and a raincoat on rainy days, before I go to work,” she explains.

Binh Tri Trans’ children also support their mother in her profession: “They all say they are very proud of me. This is really a strong encouragement for me to perform my duties at my best.”

Moved and fired up by a greener Vietnam

Binh Tri Trans often hears people say  that forestry is too hard for women, but inside she feels that they are “moved and fired up” by the work that she and her colleagues are doing when they go around planting trees and greening the country.

According to Binh Tri Tran, planting trees is generally getting a lot of attention from the communities all over Vietnam, and she notices how the government is striving to call out to the people on every level to protect the forest and nature and to plant more trees.

“Awareness about the important role of the forest in daily life among communities, especially women and students, is being significantly improved. Service fees paid by the government for taking care of forests also help local people to generate extra income and to acknowledge the necessity of forests to life.”

She also mentions that there is a new trend of “producing under the forest canopy” where farmers combine growing trees for timber with the production of herbal plants and honeybees to increase their income in a sustainable way.

Job advertisements only for men

Binh Tri Trans believes that women play an important role in planting trees and protecting the forest. As she explains: “Women are always patient, long-suffering, and calm in tough situations. Forestry jobs do not yield immediate results but may take five to ten years or longer.”

When asked if she has ever faced discrimination, she says: “I have indeed experienced such situations. For some kind of jobs our managers still think that men will perform better than women. In some job vacancies, they even mention that only male candidates can apply. They think that female employees need much time for wedding, pregnancy and babies, which affects the job, so they prefer to employ men.”

In the forestry sector, she says that men are frankly speaking more highly recommended than women and this means that most counties are led by men and that men still hold most managerial positions “Women in forestry do not have advantages like those who are in other sectors. However, the forestry sector needs women to do various jobs such as researching, training, technology transfer or manual labour that requires meticulousness and patience, ” she explains.

Binh Tri Trans believes that gender issues are very important to consider in forestry:  “Hard physical labour like harvesting, loading and transferring should be done by men, while other jobs requiring skilfulness and meticulousness such as weeding, planting and maintenance are suitable for women. Managerial positions should be distributed equally for candidates of both genders,” she says.

When asked about a story from her work she tells about a visit to an indigenous village: “They were very delighted when telling about their livelihood improvement thanks to their own hard work and the support and encouragement from the government. The bright smiles on their faces really made us feel warm and proud about the job we are doing.”