On 12 March 2019, members of the Stand Up, Speak Out (SUSO) project met in Hanoi to review the progress in the first year and plan for the second year.

In 2018, the project formed a group of 48 change agents and finalized the manual package guiding discussions about gender-based violence in the community. The change agents received training about gender equality and skills to facilitate group discussions. 

Over 300 women, members of Village Savings and Loan Associations, and 280 men, husbands of the members, have joined various discussions about gender equality. “There were times when they gathered, some men would tell others, ‘Do not drink then hit your wife.'”, said Quang Thi Kien from Muong Phang commune, one among the 48 change agents.

In 2019, the project will continue to help the change agents organise community events to raise awareness about forms of violence, its causes, and channels via which abused people can seek help. In doing so, the project team expects to increase the confidence of the agents, who then will inspire their communities to stand up and speak out about violence. They can also use the skills gained from the training to help abused people speak out about their experience.

Together with Dien Bien Department of Justice, the project has completed the guidance to reconciling relationships that focuses on gender-based violence cases. This guidance is in use by the Reconciliation Teams in 24 villages. In addition, the role of the Reconciliation Teams is clarified in the transfer system of sending abused people to suitable service providers. In the next few months, the project will provide technical support to increase the effectiveness of the reconciliation process and the transfer system. 

Moreover, the situation and good practices in reducing gender-based violence in the communities will be documented for sharing on a wider scale later.

Participants in this review and planning meeting included representatives of Dien Bien Departments of Justice (DoJ) and Labour, the Invalids, and Social Affairs (DOLISA); of the communal authorities and change agents; and of the Institute for Development & Community Health (LIGHT) and CARE International in Vietnam. The SUSO project, funded by the European Union, lasts from March 2018 to September 2020 in four communes of Dien Bien province. It aims to break the silence around gender-based violence in ethnic minority communities, thus increasing gender equality as a whole.