#HearMeToo: United for advocacy and concrete interventions in Viet Nam
Author: Doan Ha
Ha Noi, Viet Nam — In November and December 2018, the 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women and girls took cities across Viet Nam by storm—an orange storm demonstrating solidarity, provoking thought and inspiring action. Throughout the activities—which ranged from awareness-raising to advocacy, from online campaigns to youth engagement—solidarity and partnership were identified as the key elements to achieve results and act for an end to gender-based violence.
In response to the 16 Days of Activism Campaign in 2018, and the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE Orange the World Campaign, the UN’s Gender Thematic Group, chaired by UN Women Viet Nam, together with like-minded partners, created ‘wow’ moments to draw attention to the issue, offering both online and offline opportunities for audiences to hear real voices from the ground.
The event of “Speak Up for Gender Equality” kicked-off the campaign by offering an inspiring and thought-provoking forum on gender issue with 10 speakers representing of youth, people with disabilities, celebrities, the LGBTIQ + community, the scientific community and more.
Offline joint ‘orange’ events were organized by UN Women Viet Nam and partners including UN agencies, government agencies, embassies, NGOs and the private sector as part of increased efforts to make the issue of gender-based violence visible to the public. They included more than 100 students and dignitaries who took “The Journey to Gender Equality” aboard 26 #OrangeTheWorld buses in Ho Chi Minh City. Bus stations were also decorated to raise public awareness of sexual harassment on public transporation. Meanwhile, in Hoan Kiem lake, central Hanoi, a “Dance For Kindness” freezemob sought to remember the victims of gender-based violence and a flashmob called for action, with nearly 5,000 dancers. An open-air photo exhibition along the pedestrian streets of Hoan Kiem, Hanoi also featured survivor stories on ending gender-based violence, with more than 6,000 people reached face-to-face through the dance and exhibition.
Moreover, through advocacy activities, the needs of women and girls have been reflected more in government agencies’ priorities and action plans. Ho Chi Minh City introduced a plan to have more bus routes and 50 bus stations city-wide painted orange, with security cameras installed and radio spots on sexual harassment and sexual violence broadcast over bus speaker systems to raise awareness. Meanwhile, a national workshop on gender-based violence prevention and Safe City models organized by UN Women and Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs brought voices from experts in the field to look for lasting solutions to tackle the issue. As a result of advocacy efforts, “Safer cities for women and girls” was selected as the 2019 action theme of the Vietnam Women’s Union.
The joint social media campaign, 12 stories from 12 disadvantaged groups offered a deeper look into the violence experienced by transgender women, female migrant workers, women living with HIV, survivors of domestic violence, etc. To create that momentum, UN Women Viet Nam together with partners—ranging from UN agencies to embassies, governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, media and celebrities—contributed to the diversity of voices raised and heard and in concrete interventions to urge a better response.
Towards the end of the campaign, a video message presented the collective One UN voice on ending gender-based violence, with commitments from the UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, UN Heads of Agencies, staff and partners, which were also disseminated to show unity in actions to end gender-based violence. By the end of the 16 Days, the joint online campaign had a reach of 132,511 people, with a total of 47,522 engagements and 41,678 video views, while offline events directly reached nearly 6,200 people and received high interest from local media.