Women storytelling project

“Women are the most important members in the community to preserve, transmit and protect cultural values.” Mr. Hoang Vu Nguyen – CSDM

The Center for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas (CSDM), in cooperation with ODV, has been working with Ethnic Thai and Tho women in Yen Bai province and Nghe An province to preserve their stores. During the first six months of 2021, 12 women from each province received hands-on training on smartphone photography and videography, and mapping using the MAPEO app to share stories about their life, culture and ethnic identity. The products of their work in this first phase of the project can be found here: 

  1. Photo-books: Vol 1 of Tho people in Nghe An; Vol 2 of Thai people in Yen Bai.
  2. Videos: Xen Dong worship ceremony; Artifact collection in Nghia Dan; Project exhibition in Hanh Son; Women members’ opinion in Nghia Dan.
  3. Documentation book of Indigenous knowledge collection. 

Storytelling of traditional knowledge from the perspective of ethnic minority women not only increases awareness of their role within their communities, but also drives change in mainstream narratives about Indigenous women. In addition, the practical data literacy skills learnt empowers ethnic minority women to be able to use data and information in support of their own goals.

“Thanks to the project, I am able to confidently use my smartphone to take beautiful photos and videos and build a story around my life and my interests that I have never thought of before. This is extremely meaningful to me. – Ms. Ha Thi Doan – Yen Bai province

Training course on using mobiles for visual storytelling for Thai women in Yen Bai province. Photo by ODV

This “Women Storytelling” Project was the first opportunity for these dynamic women participants to define their own ethnic identity. The finished products, all in different formats, are made available on the Open Development platform in English. The translation of the work maintains the voices of the storytellers, and stories have only been edited to formalize the English.

Women in Nghe An practicing making a video with a village artisan. Photo by ODV

We all feel surprised when looking at the stories we made and the process we went through to achieve this. [The stories are about] simple things around us but [it is] so important and valuable to express our ethnicity’s characteristics. I’m so proud of it.” Ms  Le Thi Thiet – Nghe An province. 

Ms. Dinh Thi Tom proudly introduced her works on “Transmitting Thai signings” at community exhibition in Yen Bai province. Photo by CSDM.

Two more communities will have the opportunity to participate in the Women Storytelling Project in the coming two years. Hopefully the stories shared by participants will not only help to promote gender equality, and empower them to become active leaders in their own communities, but will also inspire ethnic minority women across Vietnam to share their stories with confidence.

Ms. Truong Thi Mau introduced to villagers the antique stilt house of the Tho people during community exhibition in Nghe An. Photo by Huu Chi.


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