Engaging male advocates to end violence against women and girls in Vietnam

More than half of partnered women in Vietnam report having experienced violence in their lifetime. In many parts of Vietnam, violence is accepted as a disciplinary measure for men to use to establish their authority over the women in their lives, as long as it occurs within the privacy of the home.

Tran Van Chuong frequently heard his neighbour beating his wife. Their arguments started out normally, but escalated to violence quickly. Concerned about the violence his neighbour displayed, Tran wanted to confront him, but feared it was inappropriate and disrespectful for a younger man to speak out against an elder man.

Fortunately, Tran learned about the Male Advocacy Club, part of a year-long male advocacy program being run by the Da Nang Women’s Union in partnership with UN Women. In this group, Tran raised his concerns about his neighbour’s behaviour and his hesitations about intervening.  Tran offered refuge for his neighbour wife while some of his older fellow group members approached his neighbour to discuss gender equality, healthy relationship skills and the legal repercussions of using violence. As a result, Tran reports an improved relationship between his neighbours, who live together again now.

Using the combined power of different generations to prevent violence against women and girls, the Male Advocacy Programme invites younger and older men who show an interest in violence prevention to join a nearby club. Together, 120 men aged 18-60 in Da Nang Province work to transform deep-rooted community values accepting gender inequitable attitudes and harmful masculinities – beliefs and behaviours that increase women and girls’ risk of violence.

“The most difficult barrier to ending such violence is the reign of gender biases deep within the community – not only with male perpetrators, but also with female victims of violence. Comprehensive change requires time and the full participation and support of many men – those who are young like me and elders too. I will continue my work after the programme ends because I want to contribute to a safe and equal community for all to enjoy.” – Tran said, speaking on what he has learnt through the program.