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Making a Difference Stories

Breaking through the glass ceiling

In Email

UNDPMarch 2010, Hanoi - Nguyen Thi Thanh Hang, who is 33 years old and from Ha Noi, is one of the first women to have benefitted from a new UNDP project to empower talented women working in the public sector. Hang, who has been working at the State Bank of Viet Nam for nine years, is now pursuing an MPhil in development studies at the University of Cambridge, under a scholarship provided by UNDP and the Cambridge Overseas Trust. She expects to complete her degree by June and will then return to the State Bank – ready to take on a senior position.

Viet Nam has a relatively good track record – especially compared to other countries in the region – of empowering women. Extensive legislation and policy which supports gender equality is in place and Viet Nam, for instance, has more women in parliament than the UK and Canada. Yet, traditional attitudes continue to persist and there are still very few women in leadership positions. Across the country, women continue to face a glass ceiling in both the private and public sectors.

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Building for the future

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Nhanhs_familyDong Thap, February 2010 - Thirty-six-year-old Ms Nhanh moved to Lung Hung A Commune 10 years ago after marrying her husband, who comes from the area. Now with two children, 10 and two-years-old, Nhanh is just one of the many mothers in the area that have benefited from the commune’s maternal health community outreach education initiative, part of UNICEF’s Provincial Child-friendly Programme (PCFP) being implemented in 6 provinces across Vietnam.

Co-organised by the commune’s 14 health workers and village motivators following UNICEF training and capacity building, each session sees the participation of between 20 and 30 women and addresses a wide range of maternal and infant health issues such as pregnant and postnatal care, disease prevention, nutrition and hygiene.

“We received a lot of good information to take care of our children’s health during the village communication meetings,” Nhanh said. “I learnt that I have to take iron tablets during the pregnancy up to the delivery date. Half-an-hour after the delivery I have to start breastfeeding and continue for the first six months. I also have to get my children  immunized and weigh them every month so I can enter their weight on their growth charts.”

One copy of the charts is kept by the parents and one by the health centre in order to monitor child nutrition in the commune, which is one of the most serious health threats for children in the area.

Innovative approach
The community education outreach initiative employs pioneering approaches to get its many messages across and, together with other aspects of the PCFP, has been credited with significant improvements in the health of the people.

The sessions primarily focus on reproductive issues, women’s health concerns, childcare and nutrition, thereby helping to tackle some of the most challenging health threats to the local community.

talknig_book_goodOne such approach is the use of the UNICEF electronic ‘talking’ health booklets – small, cheap and easily transportable flip page booklets containing illustrated key health messages. An electronic speaker at the back of the booklets reads out the messages on
each page to help facilitators conduct the educational sessions.

Developed in association with the Ministry of Health, the UNICEF talking booklets ensure  consistent message is taught at each session and help village motivators and the audiences to overcome any embarrassment they may have talking about sensitive issues in such a public forum. Many of the trainers are low-educated women from the local area and are not used to talking to large groups of people.

The talking booklets therefore provide an attention-grabbing tool that releases some of the pressure of ‘performing’ in front of crowds. Recorded in the local southern accent rather than the standard Hanoi accent normally used in TV and other state-sponsored educational outreach activities, the booklets also provide a message tailored to local conditions in language that locals can understand and relate to. In other PCFP-targeted provinces the booklets are made in local ethnic minority languages to ensure the localisation of the message.

“The equipment is very useful to get people’s attention,” said Mr Ngoan, head of the Binh Thanh Trung Commune Health Centre. “In the past we used to use normal booklets to  communicate messages but now we use the talking booklets in health outreach activities with the community and people really like this approach. Communities are actually requesting sessions with the talking booklets and are eager to attend.”

Local solutions
Under the PCFP, UNICEF trainers have introduced a new locally-based approach to health planning in the area.

“In the past, we had top-down training; now we have bottom-up participatory training based on the real problems facing particular areas,” said head of the Long Hung A Commune Health Centre Ms Lieu.

This is important as health threats vary significantly across the province and, if statistics are anything to go by, the approach is certainly paying off.

“There has been no major outbreak of diseases such as dengue fever or cholera in the area since the training and other more common water-bourne diseases have also been decreased,” said Ngoan. “By this time last year we had 25 cases of dengue fever, but this year there has been only 3.

Cooperation the key
A key factor contributing to the success of the health initiative has been the close cooperation between UNICEF, local authorities, the community and health workers. Indeed, today the Binh Thanh Trung Commune Health Centre is located in a brand new building with a range of new training, education and medical equipment thanks to an effective partnership between UNICEF, provincial and district authorities and the local People’s Committee.

Fresh_watersmallAnother example of the PCFP’s success can be seen in the 320-metre deep freshwater tubewell installed in Long Hung A Commune through an innovative cooperative approach between UNICEF, local authorities and residents. The well was built on land donated by a local farmer, with technical assistance and funding coming from UNICEF and the WATSAN (Water and Sanitation) National Targeted Programme.

Not a rich man by any means, 48-year-old Mr Tang donated the land for the pumping station to be built because he saw a pressing need for clean water in his community. With a large family of six children (five girls, one boy), he has a real personal interest in improving the health of the local people.

“We live in a very remote area that was heavily affected by the war and people have very poor living conditions here,” he said. “Conditions are very difficult. During the six months of the rainy season, water levels increase a lot, bringing a lot of dirty water to the area.”

“In the past we had to get dirty water from the river and treat it for 8-10 hours with allum in a jar before we could use it. During the dry season when the river level was very low, the water was very polluted and it often made people sick. Now with the new water system, it’s very convenient. When we want water, we just turn the tap and it flows.”

More time and money
Prior to the completion of the pumping station, water collection and treatment took at least two-to-three hours every day and women used to wash themselves regularly in the river, which led to a wide range of women’s health issues.

Using dirty water on a daily basis was also cashdraining on local families. Besides the monthly cost of the chemical allum, the cost of curing water-related diseases such as diarrhoea and skin diseases could eat into the household incomes significantly.

“Water supply has always been very difficult here and I wanted to help,” Tang said. “We
received international assistance from UNICEF and all I had to provide from my side was some land to get water for the community.”

Nhanh’s family is also one of the 100 households in the area to benefit from the UNICEF-sponsored well. Despite living literally next to a river, collecting and treating the river water used to consume a great deal of her time, and still provided no absolute guarantee of safe water for her family.

“Since we have the clean water supply system, my family is much healthier, we don’t get sick so often and don’t have to spend so much money on medicine,” she explained. “There are less women’s diseases among my friends and I don’t have to spend a lot of time collecting and cleaning the river water so I have more time to look after my children.”

Fourth generation local farmer Mr Hao was one of the early families to be linked up to the pipeline network and his house now sports a sparkling new flushing toilet and shower. With four kids aged 13-26, Hao has a clear understanding of the impact of the clean water system.

“My family has been living here as farmers for generations and I know how much pollution gets released into the rivers from the rice fields in the form of fertilizers and other chemicals,” he said.

“Our children used to get sick quite often, particularly from raw vegetables washed in the river water. I believe the new water supply system is very important for reducing diseases in the area.”

The well has a capacity of 400 households and each month new families are added to the water system through a slow expansion of the pipe network. It normally takes four years for a well to reach capacity but already its impact has been significant.

“Skin diseases, women’s diseases, dengue fever and water-borne diseases have all decreased since the clean water pump has been operational,” said head of the Long Hung A Commune Health Centre Ms Lieu.

With continued support, more parents like Hao, Nhanh and Tang will enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing the water their children are using is safe, clean and cheap.

Together with the community health outreach activities and other UNICEF initiatives in the area implemented under the PCFP, these families can look forward to a healthier, better informed and cleaner community for their future generations.

- Photos and text by Eddy McCall

LHQ công bố tài liệu thảo luận chính sách mới giúp Việt Nam đối phó với biến đổi khí hậu

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Simon Maxwell, former director of the Overseas Development InstituteHà Nội, ngày 2 tháng 12 năm 2009 - Những thách thức chính về biến đổi khí hậu đối với Việt Nam là gì? Cần có những chính sách gì để đảm bảo cho Việt Nam tiếp tục con đường phát triển con người bền vững? Đó là những câu hỏi chính đề cập trong tài liệu “Việt Nam và biến đổi khí hậu: Tài liệu thảo luận về chính sách phục vụ phát triển con người bền vững” được công bố ngày hôm nay tại cuộc đối thoại quốc gia về biến đổi khí hậu do Liên Hợp Quốc, Bộ Tài nguyên và Môi trường và Oxfam tổ chức.

Tài liệu này nêu bật những thách thức chính về biến đổi khí hậu đối với Việt Nam và đưa ra một loạt khuyến nghị làm thế nào để tăng cường các chính sách và hoạt động thực tiễn của quốc gia. Tài liệu cho rằng là một trong số các quốc gia bị ảnh hưởng nhiều nhất bởi biến đổi khí hậu, song Việt Nam có thể tiến hành các biện pháp đối phó có ý nghĩa quan trọng mang lại nhiều cơ hội để Việt Nam tiếp tục phát triển. Những lợi ích thu được không chỉ là ngăn chặn hiểm họa về những ảnh hưởng tiêu cực của biến đổi khí hậu, mà Việt Nam còn tranh thủ được các nguồn tài trợ quốc tế mới phục vụ cho việc thích ứng và giảm thiểu tác động của biến đổi khí hậu cũng như ứng dụng các công nghệ sạch hơn và hiệu quả hơn, và có thể tăng cường bình đẳng giới thông qua việc trao quyền cho phụ nữ tham gia vào công tác ra quyết định liên quan tới biến đổi khí hậu ở cấp địa phương và trung ương.

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Joining hands, raising voices

In Email

unicef_cc_group

December 2009, Hanoi - Sporting a huge smile, 14-year-old Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tuyet from HCM City is barely able to keep still as she describes how she was introduced to the issue of climate change. “I first heard about climate change about four or five years ago because I am a member of the CLB Khan Quang Do Journalists Club and I became very interested in this issue,” she explains. 

It’s the day before Tuyet and five other Vietnamese children leave for Copenhagen to participate in the Children’s Climate Forum and needless to say, they are all very excited.

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Still volunteering at 50

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unv22 June 2009, Hanoi - In a departure from his usual routine, Indra spent a week of breaks and lunchtimes trawling the offices of other UN agencies in Ha Noi, collecting communication and educational materials. In the days to come, these materials would be put to use in displays at the volunteer fair – the second part of International Volunteer Day 2008 (IVD) celebration in Ha Noi.

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UN joint census monitoring ensures quality data collection

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joint_censusHung Yen Province, Viet Nam - The interview proceeded with typical formality and courtesy:

-  “My name is Ngo Quang Khai and would like to interview you in order to get information for the 2009 Census.
- Please, come in and take a seat.
- Have you heard about the census?
- Yes.
- Your name is Truc Van Son?
- That is right.
- May I know, then, how many people are living in this household?”

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New partnership aims to optimize development assistance for health

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health_jointHa Noi, 23 April 2009 - Last week the newly formed Health Partnership Group, led by the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam and including UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and UNAIDS as well as other development partners, held their first meeting and adopted a joint Statement of Intent to guide their work together. The Statement aims to make development assistance for health more efficient and effective, and contribute to the achievement of Viet Nam’s health development goals.

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Tiêu điểm

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NGÀY THẾ GIỚI PHÒNG CHỐNG AIDS NĂM 2017

 

Ngày 1 tháng 12 năm 2017

 

Michel Sidibé
Tổng Giám đốc UNAIDS
Phó Tổng thư ký Liên Hợp Quốc

Kỷ niệm ngày Thế giới phòng chống AIDS năm nay, chúng ta cùng nhau nêu bật tầm quan trọng của quyền về sức khỏe và những thách thức mà những người sống với HIV và người có nguy cơ cao lây nhiễm HIV còn đang phải đối mặt trong việc thực hiện quyền về sức khỏe.


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Vì một hà nội vui sống, thiết kế không gian công cộng

Hà Nội ngày 17/10/2017 - Với mục tiêu cải thiện môi trường sống của người dân, đồng thời đưa văn hóa nghệ thuật đến với cộng đồng, hướng đến một tương lai đô thị tốt đẹp hơn, Chương trình Định cư Con người Liên Hợp Quốc (UN-Habitat) đã xây dựng dự án "Huy động nguồn lực cộng đồng và sự tham gia của giới trẻ trong kiến tạo không gian công cộng xanh, an toàn tại Quận Hoàn Kiếm" (sau đây gọi tắt là dự án Không gian công cộng) thuộc chương trình Block by Block của Văn phòng Trung ương UN-Habitat và công ty Mojang, nhà sáng lập ứng dụng Minecraft.


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Trừng phạt khắc nghiệt đối với trẻ em vi phạm pháp luật không ngăn chặn được tình hình tội phạm người chưa thành niên tiếp tục gia tăng

Độ tuổi chịu trách nhiệm hình sự của trẻ em là một chủ đề gây nhiều tranh cãi trên thế giới. Ở Việt Nam, vấn đề này đang được tranh luận trong quá trình sửa đổi bổ sung Bộ Luật Hình sự. Một số người tranh luận rằng phương thức tiếp cận "cứng rắn với tội phạm" là cần thiết để trừng phạt trẻ em nhằm phòng ngừa tình trạng phạm tội tiếp diễn.

Tuy nhiên, nghiên cứu quốc tế chỉ ra rằng do trẻ em còn đang trong giai đoạn phát triển, việc gán cho trẻ em và đối xử với trẻ em như những tội phạm ở độ tuổi nhỏ có thể tác động tiêu cực nghiêm trọng đến sự phát triển và khả năng cải tạo, phục hồi thành công của trẻ.


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New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam

 

On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


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Thông điệp của Tổng Thư Ký LHQ Ban Ki-moon nhân Ngày thế giới phòng chống AIDS, 1 tháng 12

 

Ngày hôm nay, 35 năm sau khi AIDS xuất hiện, toàn thế giới đã có thể tự hào khi nhìn lại các nỗ lực phòng chống dịch. Nhưng chúng ta cũng phải hướng về phía trước với quyết tâm và cam kết chấm dứt dịch AIDS vào năm 2030.

Thế giới đã đạt được những bước tiến thực sự to lớn. Số người được điều trị HIV đã tăng cao hơn bao giờ hết. Kể từ năm 2010, số trẻ em bị nhiễm HIV do lây truyền từ mẹ đã giảm một nửa. Cứ mỗi năm số người tử vong do AIDS lại giảm thêm. Và những người nhiễm HIV đang ngày càng có tuổi thọ dài hơn.