Mobilising the participation of mountainous ethnic minority communities in Meo Vac district to contribute to the Civil Code

Grantee Organisation: Ha Giang Women’s Union

Project Location: Meo Vac district, Ha Giang province

Project Duration: September 2014 - August 2015


The problem: Meo Vac is a northern frontier district of Ha Giang province, which borders with China. The terrain in the district is mainly rough limestone mountains and it is inhabited by many ethnic minority groups like Mong, Dao, San Chi, Lo Lo … living very scattered. The difficulty there is that they have limited knowledge and awareness of laws and policies as most of them, especially women still find it difficult to communicate in Vietnamese language. Therefore, accessing them is a challenge and to draw their attention to and transfer knowledge on laws and policies is even more challenging.

The solution: In implementing the Project on “Strengthening the linkage among social organisations, community groups, government authorities and mass organisations in order to promote the participation of ethnic women in Meo Vac district, Ha Giang province, in the amendment of the Civil Code and to enhance the accountability of the authorities in enforcement of laws to protect the right and interest of the people”, Ha Giang Women’s Union has used its experience in the local culture and practices for realising its initiative to conduct training and communication activities for enhancing the capacity of the local people. 

They organised various forms of stage performances combined with communication sessions in the regular local fairs where any dominant issues affecting the citizen’s rights in general and women’s rights in particular were transformed into comedies which were easy to understand and attracted the people. “The communication sessions were provided in two languages (Vietnamese and a local like Mong or Dao), which really attracted the attention of the local people as they consider the local fairs as their festivals” Ms Nguyen Thi Thanh Minh – Chairwomen of the district Women’s Union shared with us. “Our Women’s Union has conducted seven communication events with the participation of more than 2,500 local people. The content was on rights and obligations of the ethnic minority women and people in enforcement of the Civil Code with focus on family rights, right to birth registration, right for residence, right to marriage registration, right to recognition of ethnicity, equal rights of property between spouses, gender equality,...  which are dominant issues in the locality”.

Change

  • Ms Phung May Lieu, a Dao woman from Sung Nhi B village - Sung Mang said: “in the past as I did not attend any communication on laws and policies so I was not fully aware of the citizen rights and women’s rights as stated by laws. I just knew how to comply with the law in general and not to do anything bad… As far as I know, in my home village, there is very limited legal knowledge and there are many people who violated the law without knowing about it, e.g. many women went abroad to work illegally without reporting to the commune which resulted in that some of them were abused; many people got married without being old enough; many children did not have their birth registered, many women suffered from domestic violence but didn’t dare to speak out...”. She continued: “after attending communication sessions to improve my knowledge I also had a chance to participate in several project activities like group discussion with the local people to capture their needs in enforcement of the laws, direct dialogues between ethnic minority women, local government and related stakeholders; community communication and consultation events to collect feedback and contributions to the Civil Code”.
  • In realising these initiatives to mobilise participation of the public, especially women, Ha Giang Women’s Union has not only enhanced their knowledge but also helped them voice their feedback and comments to laws and policies, particularly on practical issues such as application of local customs, protection of civil rights, capacity for civil actions, family rights protection in marriage and family, birth registration, property rights…  
  • From being unaware to aware of laws and policies, the local women feel encouraged and enthusiastic in participating in making contributions to laws and even to protect themselves before the laws.