Happy Vietnamese Women’s Day: A flower for the favorite!

One of the things I love about Vietnam is the number of ‘hotties’ in this country (‘hotties’ is Donald Trump talk for ‘she’s a good looking gal’). It’s actually hard to find a girl who is NOT attractive!

When you do find a girl, no matter how she looks, you’d better remember her on Vietnamese Woman’s Day or she’ll never let you forget it!

It might be hard to find decent flowers due to the terrible weather this year before Vietnamese Women’s Day so make sure you start looking for them early!

Held on the 20th of October each year, Women’s Day celebrates the contribution of women to Vietnamese society. It originated during the old war days and has stuck around to thank women for their role at home and, more significantly, their place in Vietnam’s economic progress.

I’m frequently impressed by the number of women discussing work and business in the morning at coffee shops, laptops out and open, busy planning and preparing for their day. It’s important to note the immense role women play in key jobs in hospitality and business – organizing money, human resources, and always checking, checking, and more checking. While it can often be said that a woman’s work can be boring and repetitious, imagine life without the care they take in doing their job. It could get messy really fast!

Then there’s the family care – kids, grandparents, shopping, cleaning, negotiating, settling disputes, and forever cooking something for the million and one parties Vietnamese have. I never have enough time for any of that – women have that special magic of being able to do seven things at once. I tried doing all that once but ended up with a headache, stomachache, and backache.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of women in this country also live in the rural areas, living in hard conditions and working in fields and businesses just as hard as men or, more often harder than men! On my street the women are busy all day long tending to the garden crops, TET trees, the rice fields, and the outside cleaning that constantly accompanies chopping down trees, pulling weeds, and other tasks.

It’s a hard life compared to life in the city, although if you look close enough you’ll see women at building sites, land work, sweeping streets (a dangerous and thankless job – particularly at night), and slaving away in street stalls, cafés, and bars while men relax after what they think was a hard day!

Regardless of what foreigners might think of the quality of Vietnamese education – it’s important to remember that at least there IS education for women – something that 15 to 20 percent of women worldwide don’t have access to.

Although it’s only my personal opinion, I do notice the vast proportion of my young adult students are women, studying longer, harder and more consistently than men. As social changes lead to rising levels of women in mid-level jobs in the economy, we can hope that social equity is just around the corner with equal pay and job access. You go, girls, GO!

In the West, it’s often our tradition to let our women relax for the day – much like Mother’s Day – although I doubt that many women will be taking the day off. As in Vietnam – flowers are part of the rituals of the day, along with a romantic dinner and gifts of chocolate or perfume. Sadly, this might not be a reality for a lot of women on this day, but hopefully the continued celebration each year brings more awareness to men and children that women deserve all the thanks and rewards equal to men.

I don’t have a girlfriend right now, although I’ve got my eye on two or three ladies. As my friends often remind me, “Stivi – you should get married! Life will be much easier for you!” Maybe they’re right, but I know I would make a terrible husband – I’m selfish, grumpy in the mornings, and I like a lot of time to myself to write, draw, and do other creative stuff, and I hate being organized by someone!

However, Vietnam is the only place that has made me actually contemplate returning to long-term relationships. Although I’ve had a couple of false starts already – all my own fault – the sheer number of ‘hotties’ around the country is hard to ignore!!

So remember what women do for all of us on Vietnamese Women’s Day and who knows, maybe those flowers you give might lead to something interesting!

 Happy Vietnamese Women’s Day