Viet Nam on International Women's day
On the 100th anniversary of the first International Women’s day, we look at one of the innovative ways Marie Stopes International Vietnam (MSI Viet Nam) is giving vulnerable women access to sexual and reproductive health services.
Changing the lives of Viet Nam’s migrant workers
Every year, thousands of young Vietnamese women leave their family homes in search of work in Ho Chi Minh city. Isolated and uneducated, they have little understanding of sexual or reproductive healthcare. And with no friends or family nearby, they have even less of an idea where to go for help when they need it.
MSI Viet Nam realised that the best way to give these women access to the information and services they need was to take it to them – not at home, where they spend little time, but at work.
Since 2006, with the support of Adidas and the World Bank, MSI Viet Nam has been bringing health information and services into Viet Nam’s factories. It’s an innovative approach in itself. But what makes it even more unusual – and what’s contributed to its huge success – is the fact that it’s the factory workers themselves who do the teaching.
Learning from each other: the ‘peer educator’ system
After being trained in sexual and reproductive health and attending communication courses, selected women act as a ‘bridge’ between MSI Viet Nam workers and the factory workers. They provide advice and information to their colleagues, but they also give contraception to women who might otherwise have been too ashamed to ask.
Since the initiative started, our 665 peer educators have run nearly 150,000 counselling sessions, and referred roughly 1,000 clients to MSI Viet Nam clinics for further advice.
Giving women a brighter future
One of our peer educators is Vo Nhu Thuyen, a 23-year old woman who had recently moved to the city from a rural township in central Vietnam. Having arrived at the factory with little sexual and reproductive health knowledge, Thuyen now helps MSI Viet Nam staff to run sessions, and even gives one-to-one and group counselling for her colleagues.
“MSI Viet Nam changed my life”, Thuyen says. Now with her help, this innovative scheme is changing the lives – and choices – of thousands of Viet Nam’s poorest and most vulnerable women too. Not only that, those women now have knowledge which they can pass on to others like them.