Hanh has a Master's Degree in Economics. She spent six years studying and working in the United States.
In Vietnam, there is a proverb saying that "If you have a son, you can say you have a descendant. But you cannot say so even if you have ten daughters." In a conservative male-dominated culture, when you announce that you are pregnant, the most common question you will be asked is whether it is a boy or a girl. If the answer is girl, you will often receive a condescending and sympathetic look from the other person who will quickly offer some condolences and encourage you to try for a son “next time”. When the doctor first told me that I was going to have a daughter, so many thoughts ran through my mind. Having a daughter made you think about the lives and prospects of your daughter and all women in general. As a mother, I realize that becoming a mother to a daughter changes my perspectives on many aspects of life, and gives me an opportunity to grow. Here is the list of how having a daughter is such a blessing for any mother.
Do Mother and Daughter’s Things Together
Ever since I have my daughter, I never feel alone again. She is the best companion who accompanies me to all my adventures, whether to go shopping for a special occasion or to train for a half marathon. She also loves helping me around the kitchen, washing the dishes or preparing food. Even though I often end up cleaning her mess, I am delighted to have such a lovely assistant. In addition, there are many cute little things that a daughter and her mother can do together, such as wearing matching outfits, getting a pedicure/ medicure, or even travelling the world together.
Truly Appreciate Your Partner
Having a baby makes you appreciate your partner. Through the time of pregnancy, delivery and child-care, your partner is there for you, taking you to doctor consultations, seeing the baby grow up, and sharing the dreams you have for your daughter. In my case, my husband has been my source of strength, the one that carries me through the most painful moments of labor and supports me physically, emotionally and financially. Moreover, in a culture where the man is often mocked as being “weak” for having a daughter, my husband’s genuine love and excitement about our daughter make me feel both grateful for and proud of him. Knowing that my husband is willing to put the family above his own ego and protect his women from the social condemnation – which sometimes comes from one’s own extended family – deeply touches my heart. Our daughter’s sweet presence in our little home completes us.
Fight for Women’s Equality
Gender inequality posits a challenge in Vietnam. Poverty and deep-seated patriarch cultural attitude prevent Vietnamese women from fully engaging in the economy, and deny them many opportunities that men easily enjoy. The discrimination happens to a woman throughout her lifetime, beginning at home and following her to school and workplace. For example, due to Vietnamese family’s preference toward sons, the number of female fetuses being aborted is unnaturally higher than that of male fetuses, leading to the gender imbalance in Vietnam with the ratio of boys to girls at birth of 114 to 100. In addition, boys gain better access to education than girls, and girls living in poor rural and mountainous areas have a slim chance of getting any education at all. At work, women are less likely to be promoted, especially in the male-dominated sectors, and receive lower wages for the same amount of work. Moreover, female workers are also more susceptible to sexual harassment, and the Confucian culture discourages them from naming and bringing the perpetrators to justice. In fact, the #Metoo movement which has shaken Vietnam in recent months with a series of allegations against high-profile male celebrities, politicians, journalists, etc. regarding their misconducts reveals the widespread and severity of sexual harassment and violence against women in the country.
Labor Force Participation Rate by Sex (% of Population Ages 15+)
As a woman growing up in Vietnam, I experienced gender discrimination at various points in my personal life and career. Like others, I took great efforts to ignore the issue, or cover it up. Now, I realize that my silence means that my daughter’s generation will face the same fate, and that women will always be deemed inferior. Consequently, I am motivated to explore the issue more carefully, act more responsibly, and muster up the courage to raise my voice and address the issue.
I came across an article describing an atrocity committed by the Blue Dragon soldiers at Hamy Village, Quang Nam Province during the American War in Vietnam. One of the most heart-wrenching stories stuck on my mind was how the children and babies screamed and were killed while still holding onto their mothers. As I have my own baby, the thought of her being ripped away from my arms gave me goosebumps. In Vietnam, after years of fighting against the Chinese, the French, and then the American, we are finally able to live in peace and have the necessary social and political stability to invest in our future and enjoy life. However, these despondent war stories are still omnipresent around the world, such as the heart-breaking fate of many Syrian immigrants, the Marawi battle in Philippines, the Rohingya ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, etc. In light of these events, peace seems so fragile and futile. While war is still the norm in many places, I wish that my daughter could grow up in peace, wake up in the morning to feel the sunshine, and appreciate how wonderful this life is.
Support Sustainable Development
Sustainable development is development that serves the current generation without impeding the future generation’s ability to consume. For many people, the idea of a future beyond their own existence seems unthinkable. Nevertheless, when you have children, you realize that future generations exist, that life does not end when you die, and that the world you leave behind will be your legacy for the future generation. In Vietnamese tradition, parents often work hard to save money and buy property for their children. Nonetheless, we must recognize that inheritance means more than just materialistic things; i.e., the children also inherit their parents’ generations’ legal framework, business practice, social norms, etiquette, and values. They learn from the adults’ behaviors. Therefore, while advancing economic growth, we need to preserve the nature, minimize impacts on our beautiful Earth so that our children can walk on the pristine white-sand beach, climb to the highest mountains to watch sunrise - not to collect trash, and breathe fresh air - not city smog. While running after profits, we should remember that our business ethics and code of conducts will also influence our future generation’s perception and business practice.
Understand and Sympathize Female Manager
A study by the Center for American Progress revealed that in the United States, although women constituted 44 percent of the overall S&P 500 labor force, they held only 25% of executive- and senior-level positions, 20% of board members, and 6% of CEOs. In Vietnam, the figures were equally dismal, with women occupying 17.6% of executive board members. In politics, the situation seemed even more hostile towards women with only 13 female world leaders among more than 200 countries. As tough as the road to leadership for women has always been, since becoming a mother, I realize how challenging it is to be a mother and a full-time working manager. Both jobs require round-the-clock attention, undivided dedication, and sacrifice. In the past, I often criticized my female managers for their lack of network, absence, or slow response. However, with my daughter constantly asking for my time, I now see the full picture. For the first time, I truly empathize what my female bosses go through to accomplish their achievements, prove their ability, and keep their value.
With all its ups and downs, the road to motherhood is not easy; however, in retrospect, it is all worth it. Having a daughter helps me realize that love can be so immense and selfless, and that there are many things we can do to make this world a better place.
Travel Chef from Manila on June 15, 2018:
Wonderful hub! In some places, most prefer of having a son as they think they're more stronger and they can continue the name of the family. But sometimes, it's more than just that since having a daughter has those benefits too.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on May 23, 2018:
Great hub, both girls and boys are equal to me.
Larry W Fish from Raleigh on May 19, 2018:
That is an interesting article, Hanh. I am glad that we have a boy and a girl. Both are loved equally and have given us many pleasures in our lives.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 19, 2018:
I appreciate your writing about this. We are five girls as our parents kept trying to have a boy but the boy they conceived, they lost. I am happy to live in a culture where there are traces still of wanting to have a boy but girls are equally appreciated.