Projects, Participation and Power: Implications for Empowerment of Women in Khe Tran Ethnic Minority Village in Central Vietnam 
- 23 October, 2018
Research submitted to School of Social Science, University of Queensland
This study examines ways in which top-down development programs supporting economic diversification have been re-shaped at the village level by women in an ethnic minority village in Vietnam. It reveals that women in the village have experienced positive changes in their life and their status within village programs has been driven by central and local government development projects. Yet the changes for women have been limited. The most significant changes in economic participation and empowerment are observed for a small group of better-off and more influential women, rather than for all women in the village.
This study shows that the development projects are enabled and limited via kinship, ethnicity and settlement patterns/livelihoods and that women have worked together to negotiate the adverse impacts of development and to improve their livelihoods and well-being in ways that are important to them. The research indicates the relevance and importance of intersections of gender, kinship, socio-economic (financial) status, location, and ethnicity in structuring women’s empowerment in an ethnic minority village. Accordingly, to ensure empowerment and equality for women and girls in the village, development initiatives must be gender-focused and localized to genuinely facilitate women’s capacities to influence and change the current power system, while ensuring that values and traditions which women value as essential for a ‘good’ life (such as family happiness and harmony) are preserved.
Integrative processes are important and women’s empowerment must be genuinely recognized as a diverse experience involving both change and stability (modernization and tradition), and shaped by local relations, practices of power, and local understandings of the ‘good life’ that women are striving for.