Viet Nam, according to the World Bank, has already met five of its ten Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is on track to meet two more before the 2015 deadline. However, critical gaps remain and national progress masks the disparities between overall averages and the situation among the country’s ethnic minorities. This is particularly true for the Hmong.
This country briefing draws on research from in-depth qualitative work undertaken in 2013 in Ha Giang province, northern Viet Nam, on what drives the shifting and persisting norms surrounding marriage practices within the Hmong community. It looks at how these norms are shaped by individual agency, socio-economic conditions, demographic factors and social institutions and the impacts they have on girls’ capacities in terms of education, economics, decision-making, sexual and reproductive health and physical well-being. The briefing concludes with a short reflection on the policy and programming implications for the Government of Viet Nam and its development partners, given the growing recognition that progress towards the MDGs must be measured not just in terms of national averages but in terms of meaningful change for all social groups.