Viet Nam: #HowAbnormal aims to break gender stereotypes

#HowAbnormal Campaign

Stereotypes confine women and men to certain ways of being, especially to hold “acceptable” careers and positions. According to the UNDP report on women’s leadership in Viet Nam, few women achieve senior government positions.  There are numerous challenges that women face in the public sector including discriminatory practices in hiring and promotion practices, lack of support from senior leaders, lack of understanding and support of the demanding role women have within the home and community in addition to their role in the office. 

Viet Nam is one of the few countries with different ages for retirement for women and men where we see women being forced to retire at the age of 55 while men retire at 60.  It is also a commonly held but not always stated belief that men are natural leaders and women are not.  Women are restricted from advancement largely due to traditional views held both by women and men on gender norms.

Video series : Flipped Gender Roles

In 2015, UNDP launched the #HowAbnormal campaign to challenge gender stereotypes, by producing 7 short films featuring typical scenarios, but where gender roles were flipped, provoking audience to

Imagine boys not being born as daughters are preferred over sons…

Imagine men doing all house work...

Imagine men being intimidated and beaten by their wives….

Imagine men having to retire at 55…

Imagine men being sexually harassed and feeling unsafe in their daily life…

Imagine boys not being encouraged to be leaders…

Imagine women drink excessively and neglecting families’ duties

The video series of gender flipped roles aim to raise public awareness about the specific issue of gender stereotypes in Viet Nam and to call the participation of the governmental organizations, peer NGOs, media partners, public figures, citizens, especially the youth in removing the gender-based barriers against the women’s full advancement. 

Filmmaking Contest


Since its launch in December 2015, UNDP’s #HowAbnormal campaign has been well appreciated by multiple educational institutions, development agencies and many students across Viet Nam. This nation-wide and youth-oriented campaign includes.

Film competitions that supported young groups of film makers in presenting touching and fresh ways to break gender stereotypes. The competition received the enthusiastic participation from young filmmakers across the country. Over 50 individuals and teams submitted their film proposals and 9 best scripts were granted with funds to be produced into films. They have put into their lenses the vivid, objective and honest images of widely supposed gender norms. 

All the movies produced enjoyed very high viewership online. 1st place “I love you Mom” has 15,335 views; and 3rd place “Isolation” has 12,735 views – with the total individual views of all films approximately 91,000 by September 2016. Read the story behind the eight-minute film titled Bình Minh (The Sun Rises), one of the films that entered the final stage. Or if you read Vietnamese, read this story by BBC.

Other Activities

HowAbnormal Instagram Screenshot

Festival days (#HA facebook page)organized in 13 largest clusters of university, featuring students’ drama performance on breaking gender stereotypes and talk shows with champions for gender equality, joined by about 30,000 students. 

On-line pledge forms to commit to break negative gender stereotypes that to date has approached 17,000 pledges.  

Photo exhibition “Women Can Do” was inspired by #HowAbnormal campaign. The exhibition aims to break gender stereotypes that are putting both women and men in certain ways of being, thus hampering their ability to fully realize their potentials.


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