Happy holidays everyone and a happy new year! This holiday, I decided to stay in Viet Nam rather than travel back home for the holidays–flights are just too expensive!
Although Christmas is not celebrated as a religious holiday here in Viet Nam, many people in Hanoi are still excited about it and the festive spirit can be felt among its urban dwellers–especially if you walk through shopping malls, which are adorned with red and green lights, a christmas tree, Santa on his sled, and other Christmas decorations. Outside of the malls, you can find various vendors selling christmas themed balloons, art, and candy.
Unlike Canada, we only get Christmas day off here–and so here I am at work, reflecting back on 2013’s highlights on both a personal and professional level. In the field of gender development, one notable highlight for Canada is its sustained commitment towards gender equality, which is reflected through its contribution to UN Women that amounts to ~10 million according to the 2012-2013 annual report; this makes Canada one of the top 5 donors of UN Women. In Viet Nam, the country recently moved from low income to a middle income status, issued a draft decree to protect domestic workers labour rights, and is continuing to develop policies to implement the country’s commitment and strategy to achieve gender equality.
From my 5 months here in Viet Nam, I am hopeful for Viet Nam’s future. Social change takes time–especially gender equality requires to challenge gender norms that are deeply rooted in culture and traditions. However, I have meet so many dedicated staff and policy makers, I am confident that the new year (and many more to come) will only bring about ever greater change.