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Vietnamese Women: History, Culture, and Celebrating Their Contributions

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Women have played an important role in the shaping of Vietnam as a culture. Before you travel to Vietnam, its important to learn about women in the social landscape of Vietnam. This article will give you a brief introduction to Vietnamese womens history, cultural contributions of women, and the current state of being a woman in the country.

Vietnamese Women’s History

Vietnamese women’s history can be traced back to ancient times. One legendary tale is about the Trung Sisters (Trung Trac and Trung Nhi) who led a rebellion against the Chinese rule in 40 A.D. Their leadership is celebrated to this day as symbol of female strength.

Another historical figure, Lady Triệu, also known as Bà Triệu, led a rebellion against Chinese in the 3rd century, famously declaring, “I’d rather ride storms and kill sharks in the open sea than live in submission to a man.”

During the French colonial period in late 19th and early 20th centuries, Vietnamese women began to engage more actively in the fight for independence and gender equality. More and more educated women, such as Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai and Nguyễn Thị Định, played important roles in both anti-colonial movements and early feminist movements.

During the Vietnam War, women not only supported the war as nurses, coordinators, combatants, but also took on leadership roles. Vietnam Women’s Union was established during the war in 1930, dedicated to promoting women’s rights.

After the war, Vietnam’s government promoted gender equality, encouraged women to join the workforce and receive education. As a result, literacy rates improved much better for women in Vietnam. There were better employment opportunities. However, traditional gender roles are still present till today.

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Vietnamese Women's Culture

Vietnamese culture would not exist without the contributions of women. Vietnam women exercised their talent in the workforce as well as art.

Work and Art by Vietnamese Women

Vietnamese women have long been an indispensable part of the workforce, especially in agriculture, which might come as a surprise to you. Women take on a large part of the labor force in Vietnam. In rural areas, women are often responsible for managing both household duties and farming work.

In cities, women are taking on more and more professional careers, including education, healthcare, business, and government.

Vietnamese women have also made great contributions to arts and literature. Poets like Hồ Xuân Hương, often called the “Queen of Nôm poetry,” challenged social norms with her artistic works.

Contemporary female artists continue to express their perspectives. The Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi displays many of these art works, celebrating the artistic achievements of women throughout history.

Traditional Clothing: Ao Dai

The traditional clothing of Vietnamese women is áo dài. It is a symbol of femininity. It’s an elegant, long-sleeved tunic to wear over trousers and is traditionally made of silk. On it, there are thoughtful designs in colors. Women in Vietnam wear áo dài on special occasions such as weddings, festivals.

Today, áo dài has been adapted for daily wear. Its designs continue to evolve, blending traditional elements with contemporary fashion trends. Designers are experimenting with fabrics and styles to make áo dài a cultural signature as well as a modern fashion statement. You can rent for buy an áo dài on your Vietnam tour and learn more about the local culture.

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Vietnam Traditional Clothing Ao Dai
Vietnam Traditional Clothing in Vietnam - Ao Dai

Vietnamese Women Today

Today, the awareness for gender equality in Vietnam is increasing. The Vietnam Women’s Union is still working hard to empower women through education, economic situations, and social programs. Vietnamese women are participating more in politics, holding positions in the National Assembly and local government bodies.

This gradual change in the status of women in Vietnam can also be seen in the life of the people. Vietnam celebrates both International Women’s Day and National Women’s Day. They are occasions when society recognizes the contribution of women, as well as platforms for advocacy on issues affecting women. There are also museums and frequent events to keep people informed on the subject.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day on March 8 is widely celebrated in Vietnam. On this day, women are honored in workplaces. There are events to celebrate female employees. Vietnamese women receive flowers, gifts, messages from colleagues, friends, and family members.

Educational institutions also play an important part in the celebrations. There are many events such as essay competitions, art exhibitions, cultural performances focused on women’s achievements. They aim to educate younger generations and to inspire girls to pursue their dreams.

Apart from public celebrations, International Women’s Day is also celebrated among family and friends. Men usually take on household chores for the day, giving women in the family a chance to relax.

National Women’s Day of Vietnam

Vietnamese Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1930, marking the founding of Vietnam Women’s Union. Over the years, it has become a national occasion to acknowledge contributions of women across all parts of society.

On October 20, Vietnam Women’s Union organizes awards ceremonies recognizing outstanding women in different fields. There are celebrations in workplaces. In the public sphere, there are cultural performances of traditional music and dance.

Different institutions hold discussions and seminars on topics such as women’s health, education, economic empowerment. In households, the custom is for men to show their appreciation for the women in their lives by giving them flowers, gifts, and cards.

Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi

Established in 1987 by the Vietnam Women’s Union, the Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi highlights the roles played by women in the past and today. It has been repeatedly ranked in the Top 25 most interesting museums in Asia by TripAdvisor.

The exhibits are organized into several sections, such as “Women in Family,” “Women in History,” “Women’s Fashion.” There is a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that record the diverse experiences of Vietnamese women from different ethnic backgrounds and regions.

The museum houses educational programs and activities to promote gender equality. These programs include workshops, lectures, and cultural performances. It reaches out to schools and communities raising awareness among the people.

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