As soon as she graduated from secondary school, Ms. Bui Thi Boi joined the Center for Environment and Community Assets Development (CECAD) as a field officer in Hoa Binh province to pursue her passion of helping rural, marginalized women improve their livelihoods. As a member of the Muong ethnic minority, she personally understands the problems that women living in the rural, mountainous communities of northern Vietnam face. Still, despite her background and passion, Ms. Boi long felt that her limited education and skills hindered her ability to support her constituents.
Ms. Boi’s limitations are common among CSO workers in Vietnam and contribute to Vietnamese society’s slow progress to address the deep-rooted disparities and obstacles that women confront. To speed up progress towards gender equality, it is critical for local CSO workers like Ms. Boi to have the ability to unify rural women so that they can work together to identify root causes, develop solutions and advocate with policymakers to address women’s and girls’ issues. Recognizing the insufficient capacity of CSOs, Kenan launched the WILL project in October 2014. Under the project, Kenan trained Ms. Boi and 64 other staff from 23 CSOs and service providers on essential skills, such as communication, facilitation and negotiation, and provided continuous mentorship support as they applied the skills to help women in Hanoi and Hoa Binh.
Kenan’s training and mentorship proved transformative for Ms. Boi. After being confined to back office roles for her first six years with CECAD, the skills learned under WILL enabled Ms. Boi to meet with constituents in the field and provide direct support to the people she longed to help. Her newfound facilitation skills were on full display in July 2016 when she conducted a community-based consultancy with 30 local farmers and commune authorities to analyze the barriers of land accessibility for local women. During the consultancy, she successfully motivated the women to speak openly to the local authorities about their problems to spur actions to address their grievances. The project empowered Ms. Boi to fulfill her dream of helping improve the lives of vulnerable women in Hoa Binh.