Swedish International Development Agency (Sida)
Sida has the tasks to make policies, strategies, action plans and to evaluate its development cooperation programs with the developing countries and to report the progress to its Government and People. The Government determines political goals and oriental principles for Sida activities and decides rational budget for each project. The Sida General Director and other members of Sida Management Board are the representatives from different political parties, social and mass organizations and trade unions...
The Swedish Development Cooperation Program with Vietnam has been initiated since 1965. When America escalated the war in Vietnam, Sweden was the first among very few western countries to officially set up Embassy in Hanoi (in 1969).
In Vietnam, Sida belongs to the Swedish Embassy and since 1978 Sida Development Cooperation programs with Vietnam officially have been extended as grant by Swedish Government to Vietnam counterparts such as: Ministries of Health, Energy, Justice and Culture...Annually, Sida provides about 25-30 million SEK to Vietnam through the bilateral agreements signed with the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Sida is among the earliest donors to support activities for women in development in Vietnam through the Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU). In 1987, Sida was the first donor to support credit schemes to poor rural women for their income generation and to provide equipments for some vocational training centers run by provinces and some vehicles for VWU Peace Tour Company by the end of 80s.
Over time, Sida adapts its approaches to the projects for Vietnamese women. The objectives of this development cooperation program are to promote gender equality and economic empowerment for women to enable women to actively and effectively participate the national development process. Total financial support from Sida from 1987 to 2000 is 12,25 million SEK for the following periods:
In the period 1987- 1994 with 7 million SEK, Sida directly supported VWU to conduct revolving loans fund projects for household economic improvement and gender training of trainers in 5 Northen montainous provinces. In the transitional period of Vietnam,Sida’s support was very important to VWU to improve the contents and modalities of VWU to meet the need of women. This program helped Women’s Union to develop the model of Revolving Loan fund for women’s groups which later led to credit-saving women’s groups. At that time, the capacity of VWU staff on project management and knowledge and skills of credit and operation were limited, therefore, they from central to grassroots levels had been learning by doing.
In the period 1995-1999 Sida had adapted new approach by signing 2 joined agreements with VWU to support Vietnamese women. The first one for 1995 was 1.4 million SEK. not only for VWU, but also expanding to other organizations such as: Students’ Association, Women’s Studies Center, Vietnam Trade Union...The second agreement was for the period from 1996 to June 2000 with 3.85 million SEK. In this program Sida provided direct support to VWU mainly on the areas of institutional and human resource development; economic empowerment; policy studies; and seminars, workshop and communication work. Although these projects have been highly appreciated for its benefits to many local partners, not only to WU, most of them were small and implemented by many organizations, therefore, it is difficult to evaluate the overall impact in this period.
The recent agreement for the period 2002-2006 is targeted to promote gender equality and economic empowerment for women in Vietnam. Sida committed to provide 4,500,000 SEK for strengthening the organizational, monitoring and management capacity of VWU, especially at district and communal levels. This is a decisive matter for any success of all VWU programs, and fully falls in line with Sida’s philosophy. Besides, this comprehensive project emphasizes on promoting and involving the participation and support from the local authorities, other mass agencies and people. The project has been implemented by VWU covering the 3 provinces of Ninh Binh, Quang Ngai and Kien Giang.
Being a reliable partner of Vietnam, Sida always offers Vietnamese women and VWU the practical support in promoting gender responsiveness and management capacity of WU at all levels, assisting women in income generation, equal rights, thus, actively contributing to mainstreaming Vietnamese women into the national development process./.