5,700 dignity kits presented to female farmers in three central provinces

The Vietnam Farmers’ Union is ensuring the distribution of Dignity Kits to women and girls in the most flood-affected areas, particularly those most left behind.

Naomi Kitahara, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Vietnam, on November 24 handed over the kits to Thao Xuan Sung, Chairman of the VFU Central Committee. Photo courtesy of the UNFPA

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations that exist in many countries in the world, and Viet Nam is not an exception. The 2019 National Study on Violence against Women in Vietnam showed that nearly 2 in 3 women (62.9 per cent) experienced one or more forms of physical, sexual, emotional, and economic violence and controlling behaviours by their husbands in their lifetime, and 31.6 per cent currently (in the last 12 months). But almost all women (90.4 per cent) who experienced physical and/or sexual violence from husbands did not seek any help from formal service providers, and nearly half of women never talked about it with anybody, largely because of the fear of stigma, discrimination and further harassment. And therefore, and very sadly, violence against women in Viet Nam is very much hidden at home.

Natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies can significantly weaken the society’s ability to protect women and girls from gender-based violence. Survivors of gender-based violence suffer from not only short but also long-term consequences in their physical and mental health. Women and girls may experience severe physical injuries, unwanted pregnancies and exposure to HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, the limited ability to complete daily tasks, and suicidal thoughts are very common. These particular vulnerabilities and problems interrupt women’s mitigation efforts and adaptation capacities in disaster risk reduction.

To ensure that specific needs of women and girls are met in emergencies, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has been providing Dignity Kits around the world since the mid-1990s. Dignity kits are a signature product of UNFPA's comprehensive package of humanitarian assistance to safeguard sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, mitigate the risks of gender-based violence, and protect the dignity of women and girls adversely affected by a crisis.

Over 5,700 dignity kits have been presented to female members of the Vietnam Farmers Union (VFU) in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Quang Nam which were badly affected by recent floods.

The country’s central coastal region has suffered unprecedented flooding from prolonged downpours and successive typhoons since early October, resulting in more than 200 deaths so far, and displacing thousands of people. At least 5.5 million people in the region have been affected, including an estimated 1.3 million women of reproductive age with more than 92,000 of them pregnant. 

Pregnancy and menstruation do not stop in emergencies, and as such uninterrupted services for sexual and reproductive health must be provided for women and girls. And risks of violence against women and girls increase in a crisis, for which effective prevention and response must be immediately put in place.

Mai Nguyen