Poverty and domestic violence often go hand-in-hand in many rural areas of Vietnam but when staff at Hagar instigated a new approach to addressing these dual issues in Yen Bai province, even they were surprised by the transformational effect it had on the lives of the women involved.

This is the story of a Hagar Loans & Savings Group

Working with our partner, the Yen Bai Women’s Union, Hagar identified a group of women in the province who were vulnerable to extreme domestic violence. These women were invited to join a Loans & Savings Group with the objective of increasing their economic independence. They were offered small loans to help them establish or strengthen a source of income, such as building a sustainable small business.

This model of small loans has been successfully implemented in many countries around the world. However, what made this project unique and innovative was the explicit connection with domestic violence. Women who wanted to access a loan had to ensure their husbands attended training about domestic violence. Any resistance by the men has been partly overcome by the financial incentive of greater prosperity for the family.

Not only has the group helped to improve the economic independence of the women involved but, from the very first meeting, the women wept openly as they shared the suffering they endured at the hands of their husbands.

No longer isolated by their personal circumstances, they were empowered by their peers to become economically independent. They started to question their understanding that a man could behave in any way he chooses towards his wife without any consequence or accountability.

For 26 year old Xuan* the group has been a life-saver. Married to a drug-addict, Xuan’s husband frequently locked her inside their house, turned the music up loud and beat her until she was unconscious. Sadly, none of her neighbours intervened. It was after Xuan started attending the Loans & Savings Group and her husband was given access to workshops that she saw significant changes in her husband. Xuan’s husband now has a job, is no longer addicted to drugs and is starting to contribute to the household chores.

After one year of the program running, an external evaluation found all members of the group reported drastically reduced incidences of violence at home.

Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for each of its clients. To protect the identity of our clients, names have been changed and images do not necessarily represent the individual profiled.

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