Vietnam: Ha Thi Khiet

Greater attention should be paid to women and girls in the fight against HIV/Aids.

— Ha Thi Khiet

In Xuan Quang, a remote village in Tuyen Quang steeped in old customs and male chauvinism, no one thought that Ha Thi Khiet, born in 1950 to the Tay ethnic minority group, would become a high government official known nationally and internationally. She was born to a large, poor family. Growing up with gender bias, Ha Thi Khiet saw that the only way to improve her life was to secure an education. Her activities in public policy, law and development have benefited thousands of people, especially poor women in remote areas, who now have equal opportunity to participate in society.

Ethnic people in Chiem Hoa, a remote district, talk about the "Madame Khiet Bridge". Its real name is Chiem Hoa Bridge, across the Lo River, but since it was built in 1997, the bridge has had a special meaning because it has saved many lives; there had been many accidents each year on the swift-flowing river. Before the bridge was built, local people in Chiem Hoa and other remote regions had few opportunities to study, improve their knowledge, exchange goods and do business because transport was inconvenient. When Ha Thi Khiet became General Secretary of the Tuyen Quang Province Party Committee, the highest leader in the province, she had the bridge built. Since then, the lives of the local people have improved because they no longer have to use boats or ferries to get across. When Ha Thi Khiet went to Hanoi to take on positions as Deputy in Vietnam’s National Assembly, Member of the Party Central Committee of Vietnam, President of the Vietnam Women’s Union, and Chair of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women in Vietnam (NCFAW), the local people showed their gratitude and respect by naming the bridge "Madame Khiet Bridge".

Vietnam Women’s Union