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A THAI ETHNIC MINORITY FEMALE LECTURER RAISING FUNDS FOR HER CAMPAIGN AGAINST SEXUAL HARRASSMENT AT UNIVERSITY


MSc. Deo Thi Thuy, Lecturer, Faculty of Political Theory, President of Tay Bac University Student Association and Vice President of Son La Province Student Association, has been devoted to extending her communication campaign on Safe University Campus at Tay Bac University. Her youthful, endless energy and smile have brought positive impact on surrounding communities.

Ms. Deo Thi Thuy in a H’Mong ethnic traditional costume presenting her research on the H’Mong ethnic minority at a Conference on Gender Equality in Ethnic Minorities of Vietnam

Ms. Deo Thi Thuy in a H’Mong ethnic traditional costume presenting her research on the H’Mong ethnic minority at a Conference on Gender Equality in Ethnic Minorities of Vietnam

PREOCCUPATIONS WITH ETHNIC MINORITY STUDENTS 

Her communication campaign is Safe University Campus – “Say NO to sexual harassment and sexual assault”. “When I developed the campaign, many people asked: Is there much sexual harassment behavior occurring at Tay Bac University so that you create this project?”. I think this question is a good opportunity to share more about the campaign rather than feeling negative. Currently, sexual harassment can happen at any place and in many different forms. It is necessary to conduct specific surveys to conclude whether sexual harassment occurs in an organization or not. I wanted to develop a campaign including a series of events focused on providing students with necessary knowledge and skills about sexual harassment and initially, sharing countermeasures for sexual harassment and sexual assault.” – said Ms. Thuy.

During the establishment of the campaign, Thuy was always thinking of students at Tay Bac University, especially female ethnic minority students. As a Thai ethnic minority lecturer, she understands the culture and lifestyle of ethnic minority communities, which allows these students to consider harassment as a norm. 

In addition, students in mountainous regions, especially those from ethnic minority communities, have limited access to information on this issue compared to students in more developed areas. Given this situation, the female students are highly likely to be subject to sexual harassment, while they are even unable to identify sexual harassment behavior. Thuy is committed to providing students with knowledge and skills to prevent and control sexual harassment, creating a safe university campus where students feel it is their second home and a trusted place. 

The Thai ethnic minority female lecturer Ms. Deo Thi Thuy

The Thai-ethnic minority female lecturer – Ms. Deo Thi Thuy

EFFORTS TO RUN THE CAMPAIGN

Ideas about the Communication Campaign for Safe University Campus – “Say NO to sexual harassment and sexual assault” were generated during an Australia Awards Short Course – Women in Leadership Journey. The course, especially six-week intensive training in Australia has given her many ideas and insights. 

Thanks to newly gained knowledge and suggestions, and support from the course’s experts, Thuy has implemented the campaign with a series of activities and different methods to accelerate the establishment, linkages, and spread of communication events across the university. She also made plans and established a steering committee and disseminated the communication campaign to class leaders and youth union members in classes and faculties. Then, talk shows and training about sexual harassment were held for core students in classes and faculties, and so on. 

“To be honest, we did not secure any funding at the beginning stage, so we set up souvenir booths to raise funds. In these booths, we distributed brochures, answered questions about sexual harassment, and convinced more than 700 students to join us and sign up on our poster…” - Thuy said emotionally when being asked about the campaign’s funding. 

Special relationships were built through these fundraising activities! Deo Thi Thuy and her colleagues were invited to other organizations to share their knowledge and skills to students, to train Youth Union members and other association members. They exchanged views, encouraged students to think about gender issues, and shared video clips and knowledge. They are delighted that students from other universities expressed the hope that these activities will be conducted regularly in the future. This is how the Campaign for Safe University Campus was expanded from Tay Bac University to other universities in the region. 

INITIAL SUCCESSES 

According to Deo Thi Thuy, the Campaign for Safe University Campus provided communication tools for receiving feedback and evaluating understanding of the students involved. The results showed that most students have a clearer awareness about sexual harassment behavior, prevention and self-defense skills, and showing respect for other students. One H’Mong ethnic minority female student came to Thuy and shared: “Previously, I tried to accept being harassed sexually, but now I can express my feelings and thoughts. Since then, I am no longer being treated like that.” To Deo Thi Thuy, this is the campaign’s success in initially changing students’ perceptions of sexual harassment and sexual assault. 

“During my six-week intensive training in Australia, I was very impressed about a center in Southern Australia focusing on prevention and control of sexual harassment and rape issues. The center is permitted to conduct forensic examinations. At that time, I wished that Vietnam would have a center like that; such hope is still alive in me…,” said MSc. Deo Thi Thuy. 

With strong commitment, the lecturer has organized meaningful activities for students. If she had started the campaign again, she would have focused more deeply on some specific activities to achieve better results. With approval and support from the Management Board at Tay Bac University, in the near future, Deo Thi Thuy wants to extend the communication campaign to other issues, apart from sexual harassment, such as: gender equality, gender discrimination, etc.

Source: Translation of an article on GD&TD