Cooking up a brighter future for women in Vietnam
On the cusp of International Women’s Day, we speak to a handful of the women working to alleviate poverty and disadvantage among young women in Vietnam.
“I lead a team of formidable women who create impact every day,” says Huong Dang the Director of Partnerships and Strategy at KOTO Training Restaurants in Hanoi.”
Huong has dark hair but bright eyes and is a true success story of the women’s empowerment movement in Vietnam. Like many young women of her time Huong, at just 13 years old, migrated to Hanoi to work as a domestic servant. For just $6.50 she slaved away helping to raise other people’s children until finally, her ambition got the better of her.
Huong wanted to go to school. She wanted to learn. This, however, would be a challenge. “I was fired for wanting to attend night-school classes,” she says. “So I moved under a staircase in a small household where I could support myself by selling rice cakes in the early hours of the morning.”
This was a difficult time for Huong but her drive and determination shone through and she was given a place in KOTO’s training Class 9. But simply completing her hospitality course wasn’t enough for Huong. When she reached one goal she simply set another.
“I studied hard and after graduating from KOTO. I enrolled in a Diploma of Business Management at Box Hill Institute in Melbourne with a full scholarship.” Huong approached her diploma like she did everything else. With sheer grit and determination and she far exceeded expectations.
“That’s when I was offered a scholarship to study for an Associate Degree in Commerce and then in 2013, I was honoured as Victoria’s International Student of the Year for Higher Education receiving the Premier’s Award with a $20,000 scholarship.”
Moving from strength to strength Huong used her scholarship to study a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Swinburne University of Technology at which she excelled. Returning to Vietnam Huong set about a new task: to provide for women in Vietnam the opportunities she had been so fortunate to access.
“Education in Vietnam is a critical issue. For many women in Vietnam, it is the key to transforming your life,” she says. “Over the past fifteen years, I’ve met so many women who have inspired me to work hard, soldier on and achieve my dreams,” she says. “And I always knew that I wanted to give back and support women.”
“At KOTO and I lead a team of formidable women who create an impact every day. I’m a firm believer in gender equality and that the achievements of women in Vietnam should be celebrated.”
This International Women’s Day on March 8, KOTO Villa will be hosting a set menu lunch and dinner with women receiving a free glass of sparkling wine. Proceeds from the day will go towards providing more young women, like Huong, with a brighter future.
For bookings contact KOTO Villa on 084 438 3999