Press releases

End of projects workshop on advancing social and economic empowerment of female migrant workers through development and implementation of gender-sensitive intiatives

Ho Chi Minh, 15th December 2015 – Marie Stopes Vietnam (MSV) organizes end-of-term workshop on the two projects “Advancing Social Economic Empowerment Of Female Migrant Workers Through Development And Implementation Of Gender-Sensitive Initiatives, in Binh Duong and Dong Nai Province, Vietnam” funded by EU, and the project “Improve the Welfare of the Workers and the Community via a Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare Program in Dong Nai Province, Viet Nam”  funded by Pou Chen Group.

Workshop participants include Mr. Nguyen Van Tien, Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly's Committee on Social Affairs, Ms. Victoria Kwakwa, Country Director of the World Bank in Vietnam, Mr. Alejandro Montalban, representative of the Delegation of European Union  to Vietnam, representatives of General Office for Population and Family Planning, Department for Maternal and Child Health - Ministry of Health, Vietnam Social Security, representatives of the Department of Health and the mass organizations of the two provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, representatives of global brands, goods supplying factories, international and domestic non-governmental organizations and international organizations with common interests.
 
This is a large-scale initiative to improve the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of female workers in textiles and footwear factories in the provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai, thereby improving the social and economic status and social welfare for a large labor force in the garment and footwear manufacturing industry in Vietnam.
 
This initiative has four main objectives:1) Integration of reproductive health care and family planning (FP) into workplace policies and standards of corporate social responsibility. 2) Piloting the models of reproductive health care and family planning for female factory workers as an effective approach to: i) Promote and empower female workers in accessing RH / FP information and services from the perspective of gender equality, thereby ensuring enforcement of the right to sexual and reproductive health care as an important part of human rights; ii) Collect data, assess and establish the evidence of cost-effectiveness and the potential of return on investment of the sexual and reproductive health care program for female workers. iii) Predict the impact of the sexual and reproductive health care program for female workers. 3) Mobilizing participation of key stakeholders who have common interests in investing, to create value added for workers, for businesses, for the brand, and for the economic growth and social stability of Vietnam. 4) Improve the efficiency of investments on development from the European Union and the financial contributions of businesses and brands.
 
Some of the main results of the program include: over 500,000 cases of female workers have received access to essential sexual and reproductive health care information and services, capacity building for medical staff working in factories to provide counseling and services to workers following a period of funding, establishing and incorporating standards of RH / FP into workplace policies and standards of corporate social responsibility, establish monitoring mechanisms to support co-involvement of local authorities, representatives of the brands, and non-governmental organizations participating in the program, perform regular monitoring and promote compliance with integration standards, and support businesses to improve the communication and interaction of the factory with workers on the provisions of the law on female workers. From the service delivery results of this initiative we have estimated the following impact: averted 2,507 pregnancies and 808 unintended births. Approximately 1,400 abortions were averted in which 1,240 were unsafe abortions; generated over 8,000 couples’ year of protection. This led to the direct cost savings for the health care system of almost £ 70,000.
 
This initiative has compiled a number of best practices, including establishing diverse media channels to share information and knowledge with employees, including the team of peer educators, on-site educational events to raise awareness about women's health, customer care call center, messaging, Facebook, and fanpage. Essential reproductive health care and family planning services are brought to the factory and at the same time steps are taken to support the factory in providing on-site services for workers. Additionally, support in the form of direct service cards to financially support workers in using contraceptive methods has been provided, as well as a model to transform from standards compliance to best practice sharing, and multi-stakeholder monitoring mechanisms are in place.
 
The mentioned initiatives have established a solid foundation for a model of cooperation with the private sector in the textile and footwear manufacturing industry in Vietnam, as well as provide some valuable lessons for the future. Firstly, to change the perception and thought of businesses and the private sector in investing in health care for female workers requires time and reliable evidence. Secondly, the involvement of partners including donors, non-governmental organizations and civil society, local governments, brands, factories and especially the participation of workers, creates a strong momentum and enhances the accountability of the parties involved in implementing the program. Thirdly, an open and non-judgmental approach of the multi-stakeholder monitoring parties enables businesses to better understand and comply with the law voluntarily and in a way that is sustainable.
 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
 
As an active professional organization in the field of reproductive health care and family planning, MSV has adopted many initiatives in the process of implementing both projects, including supporting businesses in developing and improving CSR standards, integrating workplace policies and gender-sensitive reproductive health care services, developing and training peer educators (PEs), organizing mobile reproductive health care examinations and health fair days, improving service quality at the factory clinic, and implementing multi-stakeholder  monitoring mechanisms.
 
After three years of implementation (2013 – 2015) the project has provided information and services to more than 500,000 cases of workers through various forms: group communications, 1-1 counseling and SMS messages (Youth Secret). Specifically, mobile clinics and health fair days assist workers in receiving access to health care services with guaranteed quality, saving time and travel expenses, receive direct consultation from doctors and participate in educational games aimed at improving knowledge about reproductive health, labor law and gender equality.
 
Regarding the multi-stakeholder monitoring mechanism, Doctor Huynh Cao Hai - Deputy Director of Dong Nai Department of Health, said: "The sustainable measure to advance health for female workers is not by inspecting and sanctioning employers. We need to work with the companies to encourage and help them to improve policies and facilities for workers voluntarily and for their own good.” 
 
At the workshop, Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Hang - Country Director of Marie Stopes Vietnam, said: "To increase the status and the control power of women on the social and economic resources, we need to empower women to decide for themselves the number of children to have, the time to give birth, the time intervals between each birth, things that have a huge impact on the economic security for women; to help them avoid unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, reduce maternal mortality rates, reduce infections and enhance healthy behaviors during pregnancy. These benefits will help women achieve higher productivity, enthusiastically contribute to the economy and have better positioning in negotiating the content of gender equality."
 
Mr. Alejandro Montalban, Head of the Cooperation Section - Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, said "Equality between women and men constitutes a fundamental human right and a common value of the EU. The EU recognizes that gender equality and women’s empowerment are essential for sustainable development and crucial to meeting internationally agreed goals."
 
Mr. Peter Tsai, Deputy General Director for Sustainable Development, Pou Chen Group in Vietnam, said: "Workers are the most valuable asset of the business. With a factory of tens of thousands of workers, in which over 80% are women like Pou Chen, reproductive health care for workers has always been a priority concern. In the past three years, the project has provided us with a solid foundation for this activity, we will continue to maintain it for the practical benefits of workers and of the enterprise. "
 
To maintain the sustainability of the project, apart from the project management team in the provinces, factories, medical staff and trained peer educators should be trained so that they can help to facilitate the practice of the activities for the benefit of female employees. In addition, there should be mobilizations of budget from the brands, businesses, factories, trade unions and non-governmental organizations and local organizations, to strengthen the implementation of reproductive health care for female workers, to expand the project to other factories and industrial parks, and to promote the empowerment and advancing the position of female workers.
 
Information about Marie Stopes International (MSI)
 
Marie Stopes International is a leading international non-governmental organization that provides family planning services. MSI’s headquarters are located in London, UK. So far, MSI has been operating in 37 countries and on 6 continents, mainly in developing countries. In 2014, MSI global served more than 13 million women, creating more than 28 million (CYPs) couples’ year of protection.
 
MSI first came to Vietnam in 1989 and has cooperated closely with non-governmental organizations and government agencies to implement the reproductive health and family planning programs in many provinces/cities in Vietnam. 
 
With its vision to “ensure the basic rights of individuals to have children by choice, not chance”, MSI has made great efforts to bring about quality reproductive health and family planning services to communities and also to cooperate effectively with partners, to enhance access to healthcare service in Vietnam. 
 
MSV has currently been supporting a network of 11 Obstetric-Gynecological and Family Planning (FP) clinics named Marie Stopes International, 2 networks of social franchised clinics named BlueStar (300 private clinics), Sisterhood – tinh chi em (250 commune health stations), and a program promoting the provision of long-term and permanent family planning services in 31 provinces nation-wide. In 2014, those networks served 3.5 million clients creating more than 2.9 million CYPs and organized trainings on improving provision of family planning service for approximately 1,000 public and private service providers. MSI is committed to collaborating with Vietnam to assist in sustaining and meeting the reproductive health and family planning targets of the Vietnamese people. 
 

For more information, please visit our website at www.mariestopes.org.vn and www.mariestopes.org
Contact: 
 
Ms. Bui Thi Mai Hoang, Communication Officer
Marie Stopes Vietnam
Email: hoang.mbt@mariestopes.org.vn
Mobile: 0933197798
 

 

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