International conference: “Women’s empowerment: opportunities and challenges in enterpreneurship”

International and local delegates at the conference
On 18th Oct. 2013, International conference: “Women’s empowerment: opportunities and challenges in entrepreneurship” was successfully co-organized by VNU-UEB and Pacific Century Institute (United States).

The workshop has drawn the attention of international experts from many countries, the leading policymakers in Vietnam, leaders of enterprises, research institutes, universities, organizations, VNU-UEB leaders, faculty members,  students and various media agencies. Particularly, attending the conference were the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam - Mr. David Shear, the former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam - Mr. Michael Michalak, former Minister of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs - Ms. Nguyen Thi Hang, former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Vietnam in the European Union - Mdm. Ton Nu Thi Ninh.

Nowadays, women in sociey have been empowered to fully participate in almost all sectors of the economy-society,which contributes to build stronger economy, archieve the international goal of sustainable development and improve quality of life for women in particular, families and the community in general. However, it cannot be denied that gender inequality, poverty and unemployment for the women still exist in the community. Therefore, women’s empowerment is a matter of concern for researchers, businesses and policy makers. Then the conference has been organized to To improve and strengthen the academic exchanges and experience sharing about women’s empowerment in Vietnam and over the world.

Dr. Vu Anh Dzung made the opening speech at the conference

Opening at the conference, Dr. Vu Anh Dzung - Vice Rector of VNU-UEB emphasized the importance of women's empowerment in many aspects of the socio-economic sustainable development in general and also the expectation of the workshop (which is organized right before the Vietnamese Women’s Day 20-10) to become a forum of academic exchange and experiences sharing , which helps the women enhance their skills in entrepreneurship and business. This event is also an opportunity for scholars, researchers, economists, policy -makers ... to exchange, discuss about solutions to improve the quality of research, policy making and women training in entrepreneurship and business...



The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. David Shear


Speaking at the conference, The U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Mr. David Shear said that women’s empowerment is the core issue and gender equality is an important matter which is being implemented in many countries over the world.



Mr. Michael Michalak


Before starting the first session, Mr. Michael Michael - the former US Ambassador to Vietnam said thank to VNU-UEB who organized the conference, to speakers and participants. Then Ms. Jerilyn Bruseau, Creator and Inspiration of Cinnabon and Founder of Peacetree Vietnam shared her real stories and experience in entrepreneurship. From the stories of starting a restaurant, creating a secret recipe, to build up the belief and sharing among Russian and American Women, solve the post war issues, establish friendly relationship with Vietnamese people… Each story has different challenges. Thereby, Ms. Jerilyn Brusseau affirmed “You too could use your courage, your passion and your sense of discovery to say yes to your own vision for your life, for your family, for your work, for the world”.



Ms. Jerilyn Brusseau


Entrepreneurship as Vehicle for Empowerment


After that, the conference started with 5 sessions, including presentations of international, Vietnamese experts and discussions of delegates.


The first session, which was chaired by Ms. Ton Nu Thi Ninh, includes presentations about entrepreneurship topic, a tool of women’s empowerment. Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh - Chairwoman, Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council had a presentation about analyzing the important role of Vietnamese women entrepreneurs through emphasizing the outstanding achievements of women in some fields, especially in the economic field; emphasizing opportunities that Vietnamese women entrepreneurs need to seize at the moment and the cause that entrepreneurship shall be considered as a tool of women's empowerment. On the basis, Ms. Minh also gave some recommendations for governments, agencies, local and international partners to enhance the role of women in economic development.

Speakers and chair person at the first session of the workshop. From left, Ms. Dawn Trudeau, Ms. Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh


Ms. Dawn Trudeau - Director of Seattle Storm Company with her experiences in entrepreneurship said that the women have to take the risk if they want to become success. Each woman needs to know what her strengths are and from which promoting their work to achieve the best performance.

The sharing of two speakers got attention of the participants. Many ideas discussed about the difficulties of women in balancing job and family. Discussing gender equality, some people suggested that, in addition to the recognition of the society, women also need to be aware of their role in modern society, some stereotypes matters in media, education also need to be changed to got a big impact in terms of ideology.

What is the necessary for women’s entrepreneurship?

In the next sessions, presentations concentrated on discussing about the useful methods and tools which the woman need in entrepreneurship nowadays.

Skill of building net-working and partnerships in entrepreneurship was discussed at the session II with the presentation of Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong Huyen - Vice Director of Center for Economic Development Studies, VNU-UEB about some case studies of Thriive Project’s women entrepreneurs. Then there was presentation of Dr. Julie Pham - Director Marketing of Avidian Technologies. She shared her experiences in entrepreneurship in some countries of ASIA, Europe and US. At this session, Mr. Todd Hamner - Director of Director of Economic Growth Office, USAID Vietnam talked about experience in expanding the relationship with local organizations and private sectors to implement social responsibility including women’s empowerment.
 

From left, Mr. Michael Michalak (chaired the session II), Dr. Julie Pham, Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong Huyen, Mr. Todd Hamner

Mr. Desaix Anderson (Pacific Century Institute, U.S.) chaired luncheon session with presentation of Ms. Ton Nu Thi Ninh about a case study in Vietnamese women’s corporate leadership: VN women CEO Index.

At the  session III, speakers discussed about access to funds in women’s entrepreneurship. Ms. Ho Thi Quy, Head of Supporting women on Economic development Department, Vietnam Women’s Union shared their activities in supporting women’s entrepreneurship, including access to its fund as well as the Women’s Union acting as  a connection. This topic drew the attention of plenty of participants at the conference. Answering the discussion questions, Ms. Quy suggested students on building up suitable business plan for funds application from the organizations.


The speech of Ms. Sue McKinney - Director of Crila Health (Hochiminh city) discussed about some form of raising capital such as capital from family resources, funds from donors, joint ventures, social capital... Talking about the development of business for 20 years in Vietnam, Sue McKinney said although using the capital raised from family and friends brings her lots of difficulty, she had suitable capital using method for her project.
 
 

At the  session III, Dr. Phan Chi Anh – Director of CBAS, VNU-UEB (leftmost – chairperson), Ms Ho Thi Quy (middle) and Ms. Sue MsKinney

 

The  session IV was presentation of Dr. Julie Pham about method of product and brand marketing via social networking as: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blog. It is popular and economical way in marketing for the new women entrepreneurs. However, cause of characteristics of social networking, users should be careful with information which you upload on it. Mrs. Jerilyn Brusseau and MsKinney Sue also shared the experience of building brand and product marketing to start business.

 

Dr. Vu Anh Dzung chairedthe session IV

The topic of  session V of the conference was “The challenge of navigating governmental regulatory environment- Strengthening the role of the private sector” which chaired by Prof. Hiromitsu Takemi from Chiba University of Commerce, Japan.

Dr. Marion Fischer - EU project manager (KAS) started the session V by her presentation. Gender integration in legal development in Vietnam should be improved and gender equality still has not been noticed in the non-state sector as well as in the local authorities. The gap between the matters specified in law and in the fact was a matter of gender equality in Vietnam. Finally, she emphasized the women’s empowerment was a key, foundation for economic development of Vietnam.
Then, Ms. Laura Stone - Economic Counselor for the U.S. Embassy Hanoi talked about creating environment for women’s entrepreneurship. She ​​suggested about stability of convenient infrastructure, policy environment, legislation and mechanisms to protect the consumer...

 From left, Dr. Marion Fischer, Prof. Hiromittsu Takemi (chairperson), Ms. Laura Stone and Mr. Chainan Nuphet
 

The final presentation was made by Mr. Chainan Nuphet - Vice President of Vietnam CP Group. Sharing the experiences of successful women in Thailand, he also compared different between female leaders and male leaders to find out the outstanding points of the women. Furthermore, comparison between women in the past and today, Mr. Chainan Nuphet stressed women need to escape the boundaries and creating new opportunities for themselves.

The exciting discussions at this session also helped participants and guests to receive the valuable sharing about the experience of establishing gender equality law in Japan, U.S., Thailand.

 

Vietnam and international delegates discussed with the speakers at the conference

After a hard working day, representatives of organizer, Mr. Desaix Anderson briefly summarized the contents of speeches and thanked the speakers, delegates who were interested in the conference. On behalf of VNU-UEB, Dr. Vu Anh Dzung thanked VNU leaders, agencies, local and international organizations coordinating to organize the conference, said thank the speakers, participants attending the conference, also media agencies attending and reporting about the conference. Dr. Vu Anh Dzung emphasized the enthusiasm of social contribution in promoting the women’s right will help them to develop their capacity and the best potential for development. He also expressed to hope that agencies and organizations will continue to support Vietnamese women in the women's entrepreneurship. VNU-UEB would like to be accompanied and have more activities on this issue.


The participants took photograph at the conference


Do Chiem - Thanh Thuy

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