Mrs Pham Thi Thu Huong is Head of Economic, Social and Family Affairs Department of Ha Tinh Provincial Women’s Union. She has also been a member of Ha Tinh’s WOBA Program Management Unit (PMU) since the program commencement, assuming responsibility for planning, implementing and overseeing the program activities.
The last two years of Huong’s engagement in WOBA have witnessed a significant growth in her capacities and skills, particularly the sense of self-motivation and proactiveness. Unlike the past projects where project teams were mostly “thinking inside the box”, simply following an established framework and executing what they were told to do, WOBA, as its name suggests, has given Huong and her team in Ha Tinh PMU opportunities to step up and bring their leadership skills and initiatives into play. Since WOBA aims at marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, Huong understands that it takes tremendous resources to respond to their needs and address the challenges they face. While the program support proves to be a meaningful catalyst, it requires coordinated efforts from stakeholders at all levels to mobilize locally available resources to support the target beneficiaries more effectively. As the Ha Tinh PMU focal point, she has closely worked with the provincial government to mobilize counterpart funding for the program activities. In addition to specific policies facilitating social inclusion, Ha Tinh Province has committed to allocating VND 2.7 billion for the 5 years of WOBA implementation. It is anticipated that 600 GSI households, 3,000 poor and near poor households and 200 SANOBA households will be benefiting from the collaboration between the WOBA program and the local government.
Huong is also aware that social resources, especially contributions from businesses, philanthropists and even beneficiaries’ relatives, are particularly necessary because of the constraints of the program rebates and local government’s financing. She has actively sought to get the external donors and supporters involved by directly communicating the program’s mission and activities to raise their awareness of the gender and social inclusion matters and involving them in programs and activities organized by local Women’s Unions. For example, she often arranges visits to target households in collaboration with various local government agencies, media channels, businesses and other interested individuals or organizations. Through these visits, gender and social inclusion messages are underlined and instilled into participants, thereby locating and mobilizing resources for the communities and people in need.
The visit to Mrs Ha Thi Khiem’s family in Cam Thinh commune, Cam Xuyen district was one of the successful mobilization efforts Huong has made since taking part in the WOBA program. Mrs Ha Thi Khiem is a single mom with disabilities. Making a living is not an easy task for her, let alone building an accessible toilet. Huong has made several visits to her family, figuring out and identifying with her struggles. Upon Huong’s advisory reporting to Ha Tinh WU and local governments, Mrs Ha has received ample support and funding to build an accessible toilet and repair her house. Huong and her colleagues from Ha Tinh WU have gone an extra mile by introducing Mrs Ha to job opportunities, which helps to secure her livelihood and her two kids’ education.
According to Huong, it is not always an easy and smooth path in her last two years with WOBA. However, the challenges that sometimes seem insurmountable have shaped her capacities and enabled her to become more independent and creative in her work.