Gender Equality - Journey of Change


At Tay Bac University (TBU) of Son La province, 70% of the total 3,200 students are from ethnic minority groups, including many female students. These are vulnerable groups due to traditional customs and living conditions. Therefore, raising awareness to help students realise their personal values and motivation to study and to contribute has been a key priority of TBU over the past years – according to Mr. Doan Duc Lan, Chairperson of the University Council.

Lecturers sharing the journey to support Ethnic Minority female students
Lecturers sharing the journey to support Ethnic Minority female students

Ambiguity about gender equality

Dr. Cara Ellickson, Director of Gender Consortium from Flinders University (Australia) shared: “When I first arrived at TBU, I was impressed by the female students’ beautiful outfits and natural looks. However, as I was getting to know them, I found out that they were too shy and their understanding of gender-related rights – the basic knowledge that they should possess to protect and develop themselves - was still limited. How to change these their perception and to make them understand that women have the right to work and to take on important roles is a question that I often asked myself.

“I shared my thoughts with TBU lecturers with a hope to have a common understanding that Achieving gender equity is important for universities, not only because it is ‘the right thing to do’, but also because there is an evidence based business case that is linked to both gender equity and university performance. In other words, higher levels of gender equality and equity in universities is associated with: improved national productivity and economic growth; increased organisational and higher education sector performance; and enhanced ability of universities and the higher education sector to attract talent and retain employees. Therefore, maintaining gender equality, creating an enabling work environment, ensuring equality in training and research are the driving force for teachers and students to develop themselves and to contribute to the university.”

To help students understand the significance of gender equality, it is necessary to change the awareness of gender among lecturers first. Only when lecturers are fully aware of the gender-based legitimate rights and benefits, will they join hands in passing this knowledge on to their students.

Female students at TBU are better aware of gender equality
Female students at TBU are better aware of gender equality.

Journey of change

Ms. Phan Thị Vóc, Lecturer at TBU’s Department of Educational Psychology, shared: Many female lecturers were shy and seemed satisfied with their current life and work. Now that they are better aware of gender equality, their previous perception has quickly changed. My understanding of gender has enabled me to look at myself from a different perspective: Why not working harder and contributing more? As a knowledgeable and passionate lecturer at a university where a majority of students are female, I think I can become a role model for them to follow.

Deo Thi Thuy, a lecturer at the TBU’s Faculty of Political Theory, initiated and led the communication campaign called "Safe campus – say no to sexual harassment and sexual assault”. The initiative aimed to equip students with knowledge and skills to deal with sexual harassment and assault. It also aimed to promote the role of the TBU’s staff and lecturers in making an enabling environment for gender equality among students. A series of activities were carried out, engaging many students in the campaign. 

Lecturer Vu Thi Duc, Chair of Female Students’ Club initiated the project "Journey to support Ethnic Minority female students". The project targeted at TBU’s staff and lecturers who attended training courses on gender equality, leadership, personal development, consultation, communication and presentation, who were encouraged to support female students to address their challenges. 


“I helped Po Po Mu, a Ha Nhi Ethnic Minority student from Muong Nhe, Dien Bien province, who is studying at K59, majoring in Livestock Development, to become more confident. She said: Becoming a university student made me feel so happy. Through joining this club, I’ve gained a better understanding of women's rights. I will share my knowledge with others, especially the Ethnic Minority female students, to encourage them to participate in social activities more proactively and to show that women are not inferior to men at all.”


Source: Education & Times


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