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Asian Migration and Global Cities

Anne Cong-Huyen, Jonathan Young Banfill, Katherine Herrera, Samantha Ching, Natalie Yip, Thania Lucero, Randy Mai, Candice Lau, Authors
Randy Mai Biography, page 14 of 14

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Ho Chi (Wo)Minh (Ho Chi Minh Women)

Having read Love Like Hate, Vietnam Rising Dragon, and watched the episode of No Reservations in Ho Chi Minh City, we realized women play a strong role in the work force of Vietnam. Contrary to historical tradition in other areas of the world, the women of Ho Chi Minh are independent and self-sufficient laborers who rely on themselves and their skills to survive. However, most businesses that the working women in Vietnam do own are in restaurants, relating back to household duties that women were primarily in charge of historically. 

Although their jobs relate back to traditional "female" tasks such as cooking, cleaning, grooming, etc., they are predominantly manual meaning a lot of heavy lifting and strength training. This observation is ironic to traditional gender roles in the work industry due to its masculine and feminine traits to the particular occupation. For example, many women in Ho Chi Minh are cooks, but in addition to cooking, their jobs include the purchase of the ingredients and the transportation to the restaurant, which in most cases are simply their bodies.

Oftentimes, we see Vietnamese women carrying Vietnamese bamboo baskets. This does not just happen in HCMC. It happens in all parts of Vietnam. The biggest take-away about this idea is that Vietnamese women are entrepreneurs. They carry fruits, vegetables, and meat in order to feed their families and sell them to make money.

After Doi Moi (Renovation), Vietnamese women joined factories. In HCMC, this phenomenon is observed in more detail. Vietnamese women have shifted their traditional roles to moving into cities and finding factory jobs.

The "Lunch Lady" is an iconic figure in HCMC. She is a tourist attraction. She has also a business woman. She buys locally and sets her shop at a corner of a block in HCMC. Her role is reaffirmed as a Vietnamese woman entrepreneur. She has created an informal public space; this space is where gossip, trends, and travelers come to.

Written and Edited by: Randy Mai
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