Thursday, January 7, 2016

Women's Academy Herstory and Future

The Women's Union of Vietnam, a staunch member of the Fatherland Front, is a mass organization for the nation that organizes women, develops programs, fights for equality, and does everything possible to develop a gender equal and positive society.  It has a long history dating back to 1930 and the Academy dates to 1960, when the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was working hard to build the nation after the defeat of the French colonialists in 1954.  The WU and The  Academy have had and currently have support and leadership of a fine cadre of women representing the intensity of the working class struggle for socialism including such dignitaries as Madam Binh.

In one photo President Ho Chi Minh is pictured with the women for the inauguration of the Women's Academy.  The teachers at the academy not only taught other women and children but did the work of maintaining the buildings and grounds, grew food to eat, served the community and devoted their lives to building the nation and their place in it.

The Academy divides its history into the period 1960-65 when it was conceived as an idea and officially established, 1965-1975 during the American War, 1976-1985 of rapid development, 1986-2002 with evolving training and international projects, 2002- now expansion of the Academy to a full University status with increased research.


During the American War The Academy had to move out of Hanoi to avoid USA carpet bombing, so women conducted training classes in thatched huts, started the kindergarten and health care programs, grew their own food and continued to provide leadership training for women in positions throughout government, army and people's organizations.  They even launched international solidarity with women's groups in Laos in 1973!  During the period an academy was established for women of South Vietnam "La Thi Rieng -- again operating in the rural area of forests.

Starting in 1976 the Academy (now with a school location in HCMC!) developed 24 courses as training expanded to also include agricultural training as Vietnam developed new crops, farm animal production and emphasis on food self-sufficiency.  During this period close cooperation developed with the trade unions for women's leadership development as well.  International cooperation also expanded to strengthen ties with Laos and European women's organizations.

All throughout the Academy's history, women have traveled to the campuses in Hanoi and HCMC (where there is housing, child care, affordable canteen, etc.) for trainings while Academy teachers have themselves traveled to provinces, towns, villages and communes to provide trainings.  And now e-trainings including skype are utilized!

In 1986 the Women's Academy launched Gender Training and joined in more international cooperation projects -- Philippines, China, USA, England and NGOs such as Oxfam.

In 2002 systematic research was added to the Academy's work with special joint projects with China, Korea, Canada and Holland.  More than 100 women directors of major agencies and enterprises have received Academy training.

2012 was a major year in the Academy's history when the institution was recognized by the government as a full university under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Training. With many departments, multiple campuses, international cooperation agreements for teaching and research and expanding degree programs, the Women's Academy is ready to launch into new areas.

Just in 2015 two new disciplines, Gender and Development and Law were added to the undergraduate degree programs of Business Administration and Social Work.  The Academy has a projected work plan through 2026 to develop increased student enrollment and faculty and introduce graduate degree programs.  With a new building for administration offices, classrooms, computer and English learning labs, library and meeting rooms just completed, the plans have room to grow into reality.

The students and faculty just celebrated the 55th Anniversary of the Founding of the Women's Academy.  Each year students organize a Festival for the new academic year with performances and competitions.  The Youth Union is active on campus as well and is the campus-wide union.   What a herstory!  What a future!

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