Partnership with private sector

Female workers in Dong Nai, Binh Duong benefit from reproductive healthcare project

VietNamNet Bridge - The three-year project on advancing social and economic development of female migrant workers through gender-sensitive initiatives has successfully been completed in the southern provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

The EU-funded project, which was implemented by Marie Stopes Vietnam (MSV) from 2013 through 2015, brought practical benefits to female workers in factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

Why was the project launched?

Worker register for health checks at a mobile clinic.

Surveys conducted in 2013 at some factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai showed that among 100,000 female migrant workers, many of them had poor knowledge, attitudes, and practice of reproductive health protection.

Some 41.9% responded that they were afraid/very afraid to use contraceptive methods and 28.6% had never attended any gynecological examinations or received any reproductive health care services.

The majority of clinics at factories did not supply reproductive health care services, and until recently Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consisted only of Vietnam's Labor Law and brand requirements and nothing more.

Based on these facts, the project was launched, aiming to improve policies and guidance in the workplace and to enhance social and economic protections for females, as well as improve health and elevate their status as women participating in the economic development of Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

To accomplish these goals, Marie Stopes International Vietnam and its partners carried out the following activities:

  • Organizing training courses to improve awareness, and support groups and factories with the goal of integrating current CSR practices with gender sensitive focus
  • Coordinating with local authorities and related agencies to promote the implementation of the drafted policies
  • Supporting groups to design suitable reproductive health care programs at factories
  • Supplying reproductive health services at workplaces
  • Improving awareness of reproductive health care and rights
  • Delivering services that support both male and female workers through a factory peer education program.

The project has in many ways satisfied the needs of sexual and reproductive healthcare of the workers while improving health services of factory clinics. This not only helped to ensure a healthy labor force and maintain employee commitment in the factories, but also contributed to labor capacity and brand-name prestige of the corporations and firms.

According to Ms. Truong Thi Bich Hanh, Vice Chair of Binh Duong Provincial Labor Union, the CSR project of Marie Stopes International Vietnam is practical as it directly helps workers to improve awareness and change their behaviors with more knowledge about reproductive health care, gender equality, and promotion of CSR for workers in general and female workers in particular.

Practical benefits

Communications on contraceptive methods for workers

Under the project, some factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai such as Foster, King Maker, Esprinta, Shyang Hung Chen, Pou Sung, Pou Chen, Dona Pacific, Dong Phuong and Viet Vinh coordinated with MSI to organize mobile clinics at their factories and health fair days with endutainment about sexual and reproductive health and gender issues for female workers.

Thanks to these activities, workers are offered health services during their factory hours with timely treatments and consultations by specialized doctors. In addition, mobile clinics save time and reduce cost of traveling while maintaining high quality.

The factory clinics have gradually won the trust of the workers. Most recently, 65% of workers rated the service quality of factory clinics as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ compared to a rate of 35% at the beginning of the project.

Most workers at factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai are young, single migrant workers who are away from home. Thus, they often need peer support to find answers to their problems.

For this reason, the project trained 279 peer educators (PE’s) in nine participating factories. The training they received includes topics such as Reproductive Health, Communication Skills, Equality Law, and Labor Law related to gender equity and women's rights.

Peer educators are committed to improving awareness about reproductive health and they do this either in large groups or small groups or 1:1 talks (peer-to-peer). Reproductive health and contraceptive methods are the most popular topics.

Mr. Brock Chang, the CSR Manager of Pou Chen, said: “In three years, the project has helped us sustain and maintain activities, particularly the creation of a team of 30 peer educators and 15 factory medical staff of the factory clinic trained by MSV experts. The workers are satisfied with what we have achieved. The company will surely continue with such activities.”

Evaluating the project, Mr. Huynh Cao Hai, Deputy Director of the Dong Nai Provincial Department of Health, said: “The project of MSV has brought direct benefits to workers, especially female workers at factories in Dong Nai. I think that the project has changed the awareness of the corporations and workers on the rights of female workers while also enhancing the management and supervision of local authorities in these factories.”

The project engaged nine factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai with over 100,000 female workers.  In 3 years (2013 – 2015), over 500,000 cases of workers benefited directly and indirectly from the project; 279 peer educators and 120 medical staff were trained on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) counseling; and over 5,000 workers were offered discounts on SRH. The percentage of out-of-pocket healthcare payments of female migrant workers fell to 26%.

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