Women Seen Through Their Own Eyes International Women's Day – 8 March 2000, Ha Noi

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Today, to mark the first International Women's Day of the new millennium, the United Nations in Viet Nam is focussing on the role of women in development. This focus on women is through the medium of photography.

Women currently represent only 17 of the approximately 500 members of the Viet Nam Photography Association. As a step towards enhancing women's opportunities in the field of photography, the UN is supporting Au Co, the women's photography club of Ha Noi to work with the Viet Nam Women's Union and the Viet Nam Association of Photography to conduct a national women's photography competition, in which the positive images of women will be captured. This important initiative is being funded by UN agencies with programmatic activities in Viet Nam – FAO, IOM, UNAIDS, UNDCP, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNIFEM, UNV, WFP and WHO.

"This competition is a very important initiative for Vietnamese women photographers" said Ms Dan Que, President of Au Co Women's Photography Club, opening the launching ceremony for the competition. "It has been hard for women photographers to gain recognition and we think this competition will open doors to showcase women's skills and talents."

The competition titled ‘Vietnamese Women in the Year 2000' is comprised of a variety of categories depicting the role of women in development including: women's role in poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS prevention, child protection, family planning and reproductive health, agriculture and food production, cultural preservation, industrial development, returnee reintegration, unpaid and voluntary work, health care and drug prevention.

"Highlighting the positive and multifarious roles that women play in Viet Nam is an important aspect of development," said Mrs Pascale Brudon launching the competition on behalf of the United Nations of Viet Nam. "We want this competition not only to increase the role of women behind the camera, but also to show through photographic images, the positive and diverse roles that women play in society, the workplace, and the family."

The competition was launched at Van Mieu Temple of Literature on 8 March – International Women's Day. The competition is open to all Vietnamese women. Cash 1st and 2nd prizes, and five merit certificates, will be awarded (US$200 and $100, respectively) to the winning photos in each category. One Nikon F100 camera with AF28-105 lens will be awarded to an overall winner, with three Nikon 3 FM10 cameras with 35-70 lens for runner-up prizes. Winners will be transported to Ha Noi for an award ceremony and exhibition opening on National Women's Day on 20 October 2000.

The competition is in line with the Vietnamese government commitment to women, as set out in the National Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women in Viet Nam, in which Objective 8 is to: "intensify information, education and communication activities aiming to enhance the awareness of equal rights between men and women".

Entry forms are available at the Viet Nam Women's Union, 39 Hang Chuoi Street, Ha Noi (Contact: tel: 971-3436/fax: 971-3143). All entries must be received by the Viet Nam Women's Union by 30 August 2000.