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Girls Takeover – efforts to break negative gender cycle
Minh Vu 22:27, 2021/10/11
The model enables girls to take part in youth-led campaigns, which will focus on building a better world for girls and children.

Bui Y Nhi, a 20-year-old girl from Hanoi, has been selected for the 2021 Girl Takeover series, which is jointly conducted by the Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam and Plan International to empower girls in different fields.

 Swedish Ambassador Ann Måwe (C), Duong Phuong Anh (L), and Bui Y Nhi. Photos: Plan International

Being a Takeover girl in 2021, Nhi has a chance to fill in the shoes of the Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Måwe.

This year, Nhi will focus her activities on strengthening digital literacy for girls to ensure a safe and inclusive digital space.

Speaking of misinformation and disinformation’s consequences, Nhi said not everyone is well-equipped with skills to identify fake news or scam online.

"I think if children and girls are taught the 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,” Nhi said.

Besides having a tour of the embassy, she had meaningful discussions with Ambassador Måwe and Phuong Anh, a 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 Ann Måwe, Bui Y Nhi 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 the Covid-19 pandemic have particularly affected children and girls, interrupting their education, posing them to greater economic challenges, greater risk of exploitation, child labor, 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-19-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 is 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,” she said.

 Ambassador Ann Måwe and Girls Takeover at a talk held in Hanoi on Oct 11.  

Girls Takeover series

Girls Takeover is a model that the Embassy of Sweden in Hanoi helps honor efforts of girls’ empowerment on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11).

Swedish Ambassador Ann Måwe said 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 contribute to breaking the negative cycle.

"That is why we want to support them and contribute to increasing their visibility,” she said.

This year marked the 3rd consecutive year that the embassy participated in Plan International’s signature progression. In 2019, the Swedish Embassy became the first Embassy in Hanoi to participate in the series.

Ambassador Måwe reiterated that 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.

Ambassador Måwe 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's 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.

After their meaningful discussion, Ambassador Måwe and the two Takeover 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.

Ambassador Ann Måwe, Plan International Vietnam’s Country Director Sharon Kane (2nd left), Girls Takeover, and representatives of the Embassy and Plan International.  
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