‘Every love starts from the heart’. Many Women Loving Women in Vietnam live in social isolation. They do not feel free to talk about their sexual orientation due to the discrimination and prejudice they face. Vietnam is a very male-dominated country with traditional ideas about gender, which already makes it harder for women to express their feelings. But that is even harder when those feelings have to do with their sexual orientation.
In May 2017, the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), a partner of COC, organised a training for community-based WLW organisations. During the training they noticed that the existing organisations lacked clear leadership and direction. The members of these community-based WLW organisations were also not very excited or passionate about their future plans, and their activities were not organised on a regular basis.
CSAGA focused on empowering the members of the WLW community. They boosted their confidence by helping them to discover their self-ability. The participants also learned from passionate, experienced members of the LGBT movement who work in Hanoi, Hai Pong or Saigon. The training was a valuable experience for the WLW participants.
‘Every love starts from the heart. I feel happy to be with the one I love, to live with who I truly am. Sometimes life has many obstacles, but our goal of living with each other is always the motivation for us.’ – Vu Thi Huong
Vu Thi Huong is a WLW who had been living in hiding with her partner, Pham Thi Nguyet, for more than 12 months out of fear of being discovered and discriminated against by their family and by the society at large. After participating in the project, they felt ready to face the negative response from their families and they decided to publicise their story online. Moreover, they officially become key members of the WLW group in the Bac Ninh Industrial Zone in order to connect with and support other WLW.
The training empowered the WLW who attended, making them more enthusiastic and hopeful about the future. The participants also connected with other WLW organisations and built close relationships. They established a larger network so now every province has its own social network just for WLW where they can go to discuss things and connect with each other. CSAGA will keep working with them in order to expand the influence of their activities.
Story of change #61. This Story of change is an illustration of the PRIDE program.