Swedish Ambassador in Vietnam Continues to Participate in Girls Takeover Series

Swedish ambassador empowered Vietnamese girls to take the lead through annual series “Girls takeover”.
October 11, 2021 | 22:49
Sweden Ambassador in Vietnam Continues to Participate in Girls Takeover Series
Swedish Ambassador Måwe, representatives of the embassy and Plan along with the two Takeover girls. Source: Plan

For the third consecutive year, the Embassy of Sweden in Hanoi participated in Plan International’s signature Girls Takeover series in celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child (Oct. 11).

The activity was initiated in 2012 to honor efforts of girls’ empowerment globally. Being empowered to be ambassador for one day, the young people participating in the campaign still keep in regular contact with Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Mawe sharing and inspiring with initiatives to promote gender equality.

This year, focus was to put attention on the importance of strengthening digital literacy for girls to ensure a safe and inclusive digital space.

In 2019, the Swedish Embassy became the first embassy in Hanoi to participate in the Girl Takeover series. Ambassador Måwe outlines why this is such an important event and why the embassy has decided to join: “No country has achieved gender equality. Women and girls are still subjected to systemic discrimination and subordination, all over the world. But despite this, girls are standing up against outdated traditions, norms and laws. Girls’ agency and leadership contributes to breaking the negative cycle. That is why we want to support them and contribute to increase their visibility.”

20-years-old Y Nhi from Hanoi – Takeover girl in 2021 – had a chance to fill in the shoes of the Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Måwe. Besides having a tour of the embassy, she had meaningful discussions with Ambassador Måwe and Phuong Anh, Takeover girl in the last two years, on their challenges and achievements over a year of fighting against Covid-19.

Recalling the Takeover event last year, Ambassador Måwe and Phuong Anh signed in the petition to media companies calling against sexual harassment. Over the past year, following up with the petition, Plan Global and youths have excelled in youth-led campaigns including listening sessions with Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Maru chatbots for girls, and Future Online research to fight for a better digital world for girls and children. The efforts continue to spread further, as Vietcetera, an emerging media company, has joined this year’s Girls Takeover series.

They recognized that challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic have particularly affected children and girls, interrupting their education, posing them to greater economic challenges, greater risk of exploitation, child labour and gender-based violence, as well as limiting their access to sexual and reproductive health services. When most activities have to move online, it is increasingly vital to ensure a safe and inclusive digital world where girls are protected and can learn, lead, decide and thrive. However, children and girls are still facing numerous risks online. Among others, the spread of false information online has devastating impacts, especially for girls.

Phuong Anh shared her concerns over the spread of false information online. “Choices are limited in a Covid-stricken time. A large part of our personal and professional life happens on the Internet. Information vital to our physical and mental health and development are accessible online. But it is not easy to identify fake news. False information online has real life consequences, something needs to be done about this,” said the young girl.

Speaking of misinformation and disinformation’s consequences, Y Nhi pointed that not everyone is well-equipped with skills to identify fake news or scam online. I think if children and girls are taught necessary skills to navigate false information online, they are capable of fighting against false truths, misogyny, hate speech, and inequality. This task can only be carried out effectively if people join hands to teach all children about digital literacy.

Sweden Ambassador in Vietnam Continues to Participate in Girls Takeover Series
Ambassador Måwe and the two Takeover girls. Source: Plan

According to Ambassador Måwe, Sweden was the first country to launch a feminist foreign policy in 2014 to promote gender equality, empowerment of women and girls and their full enjoyment of human rights. The advanced Swedish agenda on gender equality is the result of longstanding and persistent advocacy by civil society, without which little change will be made in our society.

The diplomat and the two girls also discussed several initiatives and suggestions on how national governments, as the primary duty-bearers for ensuring girls’ enjoyment of human rights, can increase children and young people’s digital literacy. Through the activity, the Ambassador gained more insights about gender equality in digital space in Vietnam, especially through the lens of the young generation and under the impacts of Covid-19.

For International Day of the Girl 2021, Plan International is mobilizing people around the world to sign girls’ and young women’s petitions to address the importance of digital literacy.

The petition has been co-created with the Girls Get Equal Global Young Influencers Group. The core petition text can be shared with government stakeholders, along with the number of signatures. The petition is urgently asking the whole community to educate girls – and all children - in digital literacy.

Girls need to be able to identify false information online so we can stay safe. And all young people need to be able to question information and check facts before they believe and share it.

Sign the petition in: https://plan-international.org/girls-get-equal/sign-girls-petition

After their meaningful discussion, Ambassador Måwe and the girls signed the Plan International’s petition in solidarity with girls who are speaking up about the spread of false information online. The embassy of Sweden committed to work with youth activists and Plan to promote digital literacy for girls and children in Vietnam.

“More support is needed so that girls and young women in Vietnam and around the world are equipped for an increasingly digitalized world and be confident to step into leading roles,” acclaimed Sharon Kane, Plan International Vietnam’s country director.

She also thanked Ambassador Måwe and the Swedish Embassy for the meaningful experience that Phuong Anh and Y Nhi had.

Sweden Ambassador in Vietnam Continues to Participate in Girls Takeover Series
To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child - October 11, communes all around Quang Tri province are hosting school-wide communication events under the theme Safety in Cyberspace. Source: Plan

Oct. 11 has been recognized as the International Day of the Girls since 2012. According to the United Nations, this is the day for us to recognize and address the difficulties girls face, and to promote the empowerment of girls, and ensure their essential rights.

The #GirlsTakeover campaign in 2021 focuses on empowering girls around the world, under the common theme of girls' online safety.

To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, several communication events on this topic have been and will continue to be held in more communes and provinces all across the country till Oct. 20.

Communes all around Quang Binh province are hosting #GirlsTakeover events with the engagement of over 600 children from 10 Girls and Boys Communal clubs.

Girls are given the opportunity to take over some local leadership positions, and they discussed the newly published "The 2021 Asia-Pacific Girls Report". There were debate sessions on how leadership is reflected in their daily lives, communication materials about the Children's Council where their peers take lead in some key initiatives, etc.

Additionally, they also talked about the theme "Safety in Cyberspace" with risks and challenges, and how to protect themselves against the spread of false information online.

In Quang Tri Province, communes all around the province are hosting school-wide communication events under the theme: "Safety in Cyberspace" with the support of Plan International, Provincial Department of Education, Youth Union, and other partners.

To this moment, there have been 700 members from 30 Champions of Change clubs at 15 communes, and over 2,000 students who have signed in our open letter.

Plan International has been working in northern and central Vietnam since 1993. Last week, Plan International Vietnam and the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union on Oct. 7 have signed an agreement on the program to promote children's rights and youth rights in Vietnam for the 2021-2026 period with four major projects.

"The above-mentioned program aims to promote the realization of children's rights and obligations, youth's rights and obligations, and ensure gender equality through activities and projects in two priority areas: preventing and responding to gender-based violence; and improving life skills, vocational skills and developing livelihoods for young people", Nguyen Anh Tuan, member of Vietnamese Communist Party, first secretary of Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union said in the ceremony.

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