Seminar discusses ways to build more equal opportunities for ethnic women

On July 5, the Vietnamese Women's Museum in collaboration with the Vietnam Prosperity Development Corporation held a seminar in Hanoi under the theme ‘Out from the Mist’ to spread the true and touching stories of rising above in the lives of ethnic minority women.
Ma Thi Di (first from left) and her mother Chau Thi Say (second from left) share their story at the seminar (Photo:

Speaking at the opening of the event, Director of the Vietnamese Women's Museum Nguyen Thi Tuyet said that ethnic minority women and children, especially girls, still face many outdated notions and customs that prevent them from enjoying equal opportunities.

She listed some backward customs that still exist among communities of ethnic minorities, such as child marriage, consanguine marriage, and bride kidnapping, which cause many direct and long-term consequences for not only ethnic women and girls but also their whole family.

“Backward customs have created barriers and invisible mists that hinder ethnic women in their journey to find happiness”_Director of the Vietnamese Women's Museum Nguyen Thi Tuyet.

“These customs have created barriers and invisible mists that hinder ethnic women in their journey to find happiness”, she said.

Participants at the event listened to the stories of special guests, Mong ethnic mother and daughter Chau Thi Say and Ma Thi Di from Sapa town, in the northern province of Lao Cai.

Ma Thi Di, born in 2004, bravely struggled and escaped from the bride kidnapping custom, which forced her to be wife of someone she did not love, and overcome prejudices to find happiness for herself.

Mi’s mother is Chau Thi Say, 41. Say had experienced a struggle between whether to follow the old customs of her ethnic group or respect her daughter’s decision and let her find her own happiness. Finally, Say decided to stand by her daughter and respect her choice.

Di and her mother, two generations with differences in beliefs faced inner struggles to make important decisions for the future in the face of invisible barriers that have been deeply carved in the minds of the Mong ethnic community for many generations.

Di's story is interestingly, vividly reflected in the documentary ‘Children of the Mist’ by Tay ethnic young female director Ha Le Diem.

Participants pose for a group photo at the seminar (Photo: Vietnamese Women's Museum)

The film has won 34 prizes and nominations at film festivals around the world. It was named on the shortlist of the top 15 documentary films in the Documentary Feature Film category of the 95th Academy Awards (2023 Oscars). In 2023, it bagged best Asian film award at the first Da Nang Asian Film Festival.

Currently, Ma Thi Di is running a start-up on making and distributing traditional brocade and local agricultural products. She also actively participates in community activities to encourage women and children to go to school and start their own businesses.

Di happily said that the lives of mountainous women have changed positively, with many of them working as tour guides and homestay owners. They have been active in going out to work and get more experience in social life.

Di’s story has delivered an inspiring message for women and girls of other ethnic groups in other localities, motivating them to speak out and take action to eradicate gender stereotypes and outdated practices.

At the seminar, participants shared their opinions on backward customs in some ethnic minorities and mountainous areas, as well as their experiences to raise awareness and change social prejudices of women and children.


The seminar was held within the framework of a component project on implementing gender equality and solving urgent problems for women and children. The project is part of the Prime Minister-approved national target programme on socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas for the 2021-2030 period, hosted by the Vietnam Women's Union.

The project aims to change people’s thinking and action in order to stop gender stereotypes and harming cultural practices, empower women in business, ensuring their voices and participation in social activities, while also promoting gender mainstreaming capacity for officials, heads of villages, and patriarchs in ethnic communities.