RMIT Vietnam NewsWomen’s Empowerment Club creates greater community impact in HCMC

Women’s Empowerment Club creates greater community impact in HCMC

Monday, July 15, 2019 - 13:50

Dedicated to empowering women and creating positive change in Ho Chi Minh City, the Women’s Empowerment Club (WEC) has expanded its role to include hands-on community projects to make an immediate impact on a larger scale.

The new direction was adopted in the last three WEC groups including the latest group, which saw 29 talented women pool their skills and experiences to assist not-for-profit organisations with problem-solving and development. The not-for-profits were Teach for Vietnam, The VinaCapital Foundation, She Will Be Strong, Precious Plastic Saigon, Saigon Children’s Charity and ICS Center.

The talented women from the sixth WEC group with RMIT Vietnam facilitator Felicity Brown (back right) and US Consulate General HCMC Mary Tarnowka (back middle). Photo courtesy of American Center Ho Chi Minh City.

Teach for Vietnam, an organisation that helps to develop young leaders and build a sustainable ecosystem to support education in Vietnam, was assigned six women from WEC to help analyse the organisation’s target market, improve their capacity to implement a project, and connect them to appropriate training.

Teach for Vietnam Leadership Development Fellows Duong Thi Oanh and Nguyen Hong Sang said not only were the women able to deliver on their objectives, the group exceeded their expectations.

“The team helped improve the capabilities of Teach for Vietnam’s fellows by conducting sharing sessions about market research and family engagement. They also supported and consulted with some fellows in further projects,” they said.

“In reality, WEC has supported us in providing new knowledge of market research, human-centred studying, design thinking and internal communication, and they’ve also contributed materials for following up our projects. Thanks to [their] presence and support, we’ve achieved skill sets to empower our capability.”

The WEC women, Tran Thi Hong Lien, Nguyen Thi Bao Nhung, Dau Thi Lan Phuong, Nguyen Ngoc Oanh, Uong Thu Ha and Le Thi Huong came to Teach for Vietnam with a broad range of expertise in investment, project management, teaching, strategic planning and education. The women committed many hours to the cause, including three two-hour trips to Tay Ninh to observe and assess the situation. They also hosted training sessions for the fellows.

The WEC team that worked with Teach for Vietnam presented their experiences in the WEC closing ceremony. Photo courtesy of American Center Ho Chi Minh City.

Culture and Morale Manager and RMIT Vietnam alumnus Uong Thu Ha (Harley) said Teach for Vietnam was an instant fit for her because she believes “education is the best investment” in a community.

“I wanted to learn how to help the community with what I could offer. I wanted to be able to inspire others and nurture my caring side,” she said. “The WEC is the most effective club for women in Ho Chi Minh City that creates real impact, that delivers back to the community. We were a group of women who came to do something, and that doing something is what created the empowerment. [The WEC is] not a club that’s just full of talk, we actually did something.”

Senior Investment and Project Manager and RMIT alumnus Nguyen Thi Bao Nhung said her team will support Teach for Vietnam even though the official WEC program has ended.

“The project with WEC lasted only a few weeks, but we will continue to work with the Teach for Vietnam team for the next few months to finish the plan and implement it,” she said.

“I would recommend the WEC to women. It’s an opportunity to build networks with positive, professional, energetic women [who are] hard to find elsewhere. The group shares lots of common ideas and inspirations, which empowers us to firmly go down the path we’ve chosen and continue to give back to the society, as well as develop ourselves professionally.”

Members of the WEC team travelled to Tay Ninh to observe the Teach for Vietnam project that was working with the Cham community.

Strategic Planning Manager Tran Thi Hong Lien added the WEC helped her “to stay updated on what jobs Vietnamese women are doing, and how they’re helping improve gender equality in the country”.

To date, the WEC has supported almost 150 women through the program that were chosen from over 700 applications. Following the success of the sixth WEC group, the U.S. Consulate General has approved funding for another two rounds through the Public Diplomacy Program. The grant has been awarded to WEC #6 alumnus Bui Tu My, who will lead the WEC project with the support of RMIT Vietnam Career Consulting & Development Manager Felicity Brown. The next two rounds will continue to be hosted by the American Center Ho Chi Minh City.

Story: Lisa Humphries