Sunday, May 19, 2013

From Toils of War, Vietnamese Women Tycoons

You’ve come a long way, baby.

This SCMP Sunday Magazine article (originally published in The Guardian in the UK), shines a spotlight on a feature of Southeast Asia that is plainly obvious to those who know the region well: its women are some of the most industrious and hard working people anywhere. Vietnam’s recent war history further accentuates this aspect of society. The conflict killed perhaps three million people – mostly young men – a generation ago. The war was followed by acute hardships and hunger borne from bad collectivist economic policies. As a result, young women learned from childhood how to channel their energies to make a living and fight for themselves. Today, roughly 25% of all private enterprises are owned by women, though most of them are small family businesses.

The SCMP/Guardian article profiles three particularly successful women. Their stories are stirring, even if each of the individuals have chosen to memorialize their achievements with a cringe-worthy nouveau riche blend of neoclassical mansions and personal accoutrements.  Modesty is not a weapon of choice in the war to put a ravaged history into the distant past.

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