Butterflies yet Warriors

From warriors to "butterflies on wheels," Vietnamese women have inspired generations.
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Two millennia ago, the Trung Sisters rebelled successfully against China's Han-Dynasty rule. Their kingdom lasted for only three years. But they are still considered national heroes.

Thousands of years of building, fighting for territorial integrity, and combating natural disasters have revealed many fine qualities in Vietnamese women.

Their country's history has also shown them to be a source of happiness for their families. They care for their children and husbands and help their aging parents.

During the Vietnam War, in city streets, they were seen pedaling erect on their bicycles, the train of their crisp white ao dais held up in their left hand, fluttering like wings.

But this angelic picture should not hide the reality: Though Vietnamese women have one of the highest labor participation rates in the world (72.3%) and hold a quarter of the National Assembly's seats, domestic violence has recently emerged as a serious problem - one that the government recognizes and tries to remedy.

In a 2010 joint study with the United Nations, the Vietnamese government's General Statistics Office found that more than half of Vietnam's women have experienced some form of domestic violence.

Scroll down to learn more about the facts.

Percentage of Vietnamese women on youth literacy, in college and univesities, in secondary school, labor force, and in national government, compared to China and countries (Burma, Laos, Cambodia) in Southeast Asia.

(Mouse over each bar to see more information. Resize the graph by using the handle that appears when you mouse over the left and right of the graph. Click out side the graph to see the animation.)

Percentage of Vietnamese maried women have exprienced some form of domestic violence, compared to China and countries (Burma, Laos, Cambodia) in Southeast Asia.

Percentage of domestic violence caused by husband to Vietnamese married women

Injuries from sexual assault or physical abuse

Facts on Vietnamese Women

- Youth Literacy Rate: 96% (UNICEF)
- Ratio of Female Students in College and Universities: 48.8% (UN data)
- Ratio of Female Students enrolled in secondary school: 64% (UNESCO)

-Labor Force Participation rate: 72.3% (UN, 2009), one of the highest female labor participation rates in the world
-Percentage of women in national government: 25.8%
-Women are 30% of labor force working abroad
-Real income is 74.5% of male laborers' income
-Female laborers generally work in unskilled jobs

-81,000 women are living with HIV, 30% of all total HIV infections (UNAIDS)

-110 males are born for every 100 females. regular ratio is 105 boys to girls. There is evidence of high sex-selection before birth and a high and increasing rate of abortion. (UNFPA)
-28% of pregnancies end in abortion (UN) with adolescent abortions counting as one third of all abortions
-Adolescent birth rate (age 15-19): 35 per 1,000 births
-Percentage of women in union aged 15-49 years currently using contraception: 80% (UNESCO)

-Legal Age of Marriage: 18 for women, 20 for men
-Average age of first marriage: 22 for women, 25 for men
-58% of ever-married women have experienced some form of domestic violence (UN, 2010)
-Fertility rate: 2 (2009), 3.1 (1990), 7 (1970)
-53% of adolescents aged 15-19 think it is justified for a husband to hit his wife in certain circumstances
-5% of Adolescent girls (age 15-19) are married

-Largest disparities in rights are in the poor rural areas of Vietnam, specifically the Highlands in Central Vietnam.

Related story:
-The lives of Vietnamese Women

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