Female entrepreneurs own 25% of all private enterprises in Vietnam – Asia’s fastest-growing economy after China. But those at the top have often overcome extraordinary hardship to get there. Abigail Haworth meets three of Vietnam’s wealthiest women.
The number of multimillionaires has jumped 150% in the past five years alone.
There is only one woman in the 14-member ruling Communist politburo and overall equality is badly lacking. Problems such as bride trafficking and forced prostitution are rife. Yet, for better or worse, women have been playing a hidden role in the breakneck development.
Up to three million Vietnamese died in the war, many of them male soldiers who left behind wives and young children (although women fought and died, too). When the war ended, failed collectivization policies plunged the country into dire hardship. Single mothers supported their families with clandestine household commerce and raised their daughters to be equally resourceful. Today, female entrepreneurs own around 25% of all private enterprises in Vietnam, mostly small family outfits. Those who have reached the very top have usually overcome extraordinary obstacles to get there.