TH3.1: Women empowerment among ethnic minority communities in Northern Vietnam: Lessons from a seed system for nutrition intervention

Vegetables are important for nutrition and income in Vietnam's Northern Upland, yet production is constrained by inadequate access to quality seed. In a project investigating impact pathways from seeds to nutrition among Mai Son district and Sa Pa Township ethnic minorities, a gap regarding level of women empowerment and its linkages with project outcomes and potential recommendations was identified. Pro-WEAI quantitative and qualitative methodologies were applied during the endline to explore women empowerment among H'mong, Dao and Thai ethnic minority groups - 611 households in 36 villages and 28 FGDs in 14 villages. Empowerment was higher among men than women, the Thai than other ethnicities, and in Mai Son. Empowerment of women and men in Mai Son was 13% and 45% and, in Sa Pa, at 4% and 6%, respectively. The average empowerment gap between women without gender parity and men in their households was 39% in Mai Son and 53% in Sa Pa. Across gender, ethnic group and location, all groups had <10% empowered except Thai men (48%), Hmong men (36%) and Thai women (18%) in Mai Son. Main disempowerment drivers included work balance, control over income use and mobility. Qualitative results indicated the project increased in nutrition knowledge and skills and had limited impact on empowerment which was attributed to food related activities being women's responsibility. Since women's high workload appears related to existing gender norms and stereotypes, seed system and nutrition intervention impact can be strengthened by labour-sensitive and accessible innovations and addressing the location specific barriers.