Blue Heart 2022: Vietnam’s call to action to protect children and women

On July 5, the United Nations in Vietnam along with the Government of Vietnam and the Australian Government launched the Blue Heart 2022 awareness campaign towards ending violence against children and women.

The Blue Heart 2022 awareness campaign was launched in Hanoi on July 5. (Source: UNICEF)

This initiative builds on the 2020 campaign that aimed to raise public awareness and change individual and social behaviours to help stop violence before it begins.

This 2022 campaign urgently calls for public attention and support to generate violence-free environments in the home, at school, in the community and online. This can only happen when there are amplified voices speaking up and out against all forms of violence and its impacts; violent discipline, mental health, online safety, sexual abuse and gender-based violence, among others.

These unified voices must come from individuals, parents, family members, children and adolescents, teachers, neighbours, community leaders, policy-makers and influencers, strong enough to drive a momentum shift in how Vietnam faces up to violence that cuts through all layers of society.

Speaking at the launching event, Ms.Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Vietnam, emphasized: “Only when people come together and say violence is unacceptable, can we make the invisible visible".

“This initiative urges citizens, law-makers and governments to speak out more forcefully to fight violence. We hope to channel public outrage at acts of violence into constructive efforts to change the lives of children and women”, she said.

For her part, Ms. Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Representative of UN Women in Viet Nam said: ”Each of us has a role to play. Let’s transfer the inspirations of the campaign launched today to concrete actions to end all forms of violence against children and women. Show respect to all women and children, listen to their opinions, speak out and seek or provide support when you witness violence against children and women, and spread the message of the campaign to more people”.

The campaign was joined by new and influential voices from the band Da LAB, Miss Universe 2017 H’ Hen Nie and young songstress My Anh. (Source: UNICEF)

Globally, one billion children suffer some form of violence every year. The Vietnam Sustainable Development Goal indicators on Children and Women Survey 2020-2021 indicated that more than 72 percent of children aged 10-14 years experienced violent discipline. Emotional abuse was reported by 39 per cent of such children, along with physical abuse (47 percent), sexual abuse (20 percent) and neglect (29 percent). Another study showed that 21.4 per cent of adolescent girls and 7.9 percent of adolescent boys reported having had suicidal thoughts, while another study revealed that 5.8 percent of adolescents reported having attempted suicide.

According to the UNFPA-supported 2019 National Study on Violence against Women in Vietnam, 62.9 percent of women in Vietnam experienced one or more forms of physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence, and controlling behaviour by their husbands in their lifetime. Violence is hidden in Vietnam’s society, as 90.4 per cent of survivors of violence did not seek any help from the authorities and half of them never told anyone about the violence. Furthermore, violence against women is costing the country 1.81% of GDP.

The drivers of violence, abuse and exploitation continue to be exacerbated by the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical, sexual and emotional violence, at home, in schools and online is a reality for millions of children, including in Vietnam. There were competing priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic recovery and the fiscal space is shrinking. But, ending violence against children and women must be a priority.

In her remarks, Ms. Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), affirmed that the Government of Vietnam has made relentless efforts towards ending violence against children and women in the past years with particular attention to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people. However, this battle is still ongoing and can only be won with tremendous and joint endeavours from all members of society, organizations and responsible agencies.

“Viet Nam has received great support from United Nations agencies and the Australian Government working on this matter. Together, we are stronger in promoting solutions and actions towards ending violence against children and women”, Ms. Nguyen Thi Ha said.

The launch, held at the historical Culture and Arts Center at 22 Hang Buom in Ha Noi, covers an array of activities including an interactive exhibition open to the public that helps explore the psychosocial aspects of violence and ways to address it. (Source: UNICEF)

The launch, held at the historical Culture and Arts Center at 22 Hang Buom in Ha Noi, covers an array of activities including an interactive exhibition open to the public that helps explore the psychosocial aspects of violence and ways to address it.

Advocacy champions such as Miss Universe 2017 H’ Hen Nie, singers Hoang Bach and Duy Khoa as well as MC Trang Moon are returning to lend their star power to the campaign and are joined by new and influential voices from the band Da LAB and young songstress My Anh to mobilize men and boys in standing on the frontline against violence and Vietnamese young people to join forces to realize generational change.

“The One Stop Service Centre, commonly known as “Anh Duong House” (Sunshine House) provides integrated essential services to women and girls who are experiencing and/or at risk of gender-based and domestic violence. A wide range of services, meeting international standards, including health care, psychological support, counselling, social welfare services, emergency shelters, police protection, legal and justice services, and referrals are available at Anh Duong House. This model is one of the tangible outcomes of UNFPA in our efforts to achieve ‘zero gender-based violence and harmful practices’. We want to ensure that all women and girls in Vietnam, including those most vulnerable, have the right to live a life free of violence and with dignity", said Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam.

“Let the vibrant Blue Heart campaign reach people across Vietnam. So that people know violence is not acceptable,that bystanders to violence against children and women do not stay silent, and that services and support to break the cycle are increasing in Vietnam", said Cherie Russell, Development Counsellor of the Australian Department of Affairs and Trade.

Blue Heart builds on the Month of Action for Children, which is celebrated in Vietnam in June every year. In the first phase of the campaign in 2020, it generated almost 100 million public engagements across digital media thanks to the amplified messaging from influencers.

The campaign also features a title song, Home for Blue Heart, an adapted hit of a similar name performed by Da LAB, an established band of young parents to promote the message of communication, love, sharing and nourished understanding in families. Other artists also join the band in this version.