Women account for more than 50% of the Vietnamese population, making them a driving force for economic growth, innovation, and social development. From entrepreneurs who’ve pioneered business concepts to athletes who proudly waved the Vietnamese flag at the global arena, Vietnamese women have brought countless wins and immense pride to a country still enveloped by traditional gender stereotypes.
As we join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, Vietcetera lists down some of the women of modern Vietnam, who fearlessly overcame adversity to become the greatest in their fields.
WBO Champion Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi
In a win that shocked the female boxing world in October last year, Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi proudly raised the Vietnamese flag after getting Vietnam’s first-ever World Boxing Organization (WBO) world title. The 25-year-old boxer defeated a seasoned opponent 15 years her senior. It was neck-and-neck 10 rounds, but Nhi proved she had it in her to wear the most coveted WBO belt, despite being considerably shorter in height and arm span than Japan’s Etsuko Tada.
She would be a champion for a long time, the referee of the match said, having closely witnessed how Nhi controlled the match with her effective attacks.
But that triumph meant so much more for Nhi. “This is a meaningful victory, to become the first female boxer in Vietnam to win a WBO World belt. I didn’t expect that I’d come this far. I have realized my dream after putting all of my passion and strength into this fight as a Vietnamese citizen.”
And it’s a win for women in modern Vietnam, who are all still continuously fighting to cement their names in industries dominated by men. Sports is just one.
FIFA Qualifier National Women’s Football Team
Vietnam’s women athletes are definitely making a mark. Besides Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi, the national women’s football team secured a historic win and sealed a spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
During a fierce match last month with Chinese Taipei, the Vietnamese team showed their relentless fighting spirit, taking their previous losses as inspiration to kick the winning goal at the 56th minute. Vietnam bagged the fifth and final spot to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup — marking their inaugural appearance at the top football competition. This is also the first time two ASEAN teams (Vietnam and the Philippines) have qualified for the World Cup.
“Everyone did not give up from the first day until the last moment,” said team captain Huynh Nhu in an interview with FIFA. Nhu vowed to keep waving the Vietnamese flag high at the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
NASA CFO Margaret Vo Schaus
As a daughter of Vietnamese refugees who fled the country during the Vietnam War, Margaret Vo Schaus has seen the innumerable hurdles her parents had to go through so her family could pursue the “American dream.”
When she was sworn in as the new chief financial officer of NASA in August last year, she especially highlighted her parents and her background. “I wouldn’t be here today without their sacrifices.”
Margaret was born in Michigan and raised in Southern California. She received her bachelor’s degree in science, technology and society, as well as English, from Stanford University, where she also got her master’s in management science and engineering.
The White House nominated Margaret for the position in late April; she was voted by the Senate on July 30, rounding out the agency’s senior leadership positions. With Margaret as its CFO, NASA will advance its goals and missions from concept to reality, especially now that the agency is preparing to land the first woman on the Moon under the Artemis program.
Vietnam’s ‘Coffee Queen’ Le Hoang Diep Thao
Growing up in a coffee plantation and in the company of farmers, Le Hoang Diep Thao already knew she would one day make a name for herself in the coffee industry. In 1998, she opened the first coffee shop in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City, together with her husband Dang Le Nguyen Vu. It was an overnight success, at least sales-wise. But it was great hard work and unfaltering determination that led Madame Diep Thao to build her own empire, the TNI King Coffee.
Today, the brand is now considered the leading Vietnamese coffee line in the world, with exports to about 120 international markets. In May last year, TNI King Coffee opened its doors in California with its first-ever cafe-chain store. Stores in China, the Middle East, Europe, Russia, and all over Southeast Asia are currently in the works.
In 2020, the coffee brand’s revenue and market share increased by 200%, with the Russian market alone growing by up to 350% despite the pandemic. With its success in 2020, TNI King Coffee was named by Global Brands Magazine as “Fastest Growing Coffee Brand for Global” and “Most Popular Brand in Vietnam”.
“My greatest vision is proliferating the Vietnamese brand to the world, and being able to compete with multinational companies’ level on in the coffee industry,” said Madame Diep Thao. She recently published “The Queen of King Coffee,” detailing her journey as a female entrepreneur and how she put Vietnam’s lesser-favored robusta beans into the global coffee market.
Miss Universe Top 16 Kim Duyen
Described as a woman “with confidence, energy, and aspirations inside her heart and soul,” Kim Duyen was a sight to behold during her stint at the Miss Universe competition in January. The 26-year-old beauty queen, who was every bit of a goddess at the stage, made the whole country proud with her top 16 finish.
But even before the coronation night, Duyen already emerged to be one of the crowd favorites — bloggers, pageant enthusiasts, and fans were rooting hard for the Vietnamese delegate. But what makes Duyen a real queen even off the stage is her advocacy. Since 2019, Duyen is a proud co-founder of Spreading the Love Foundation, which aims to assist disadvantaged students to continue higher education. She also holds various roles in community activities in healthcare, including HIV/AIDS program.
In 2021, she joined Ho Chi Minh City’s COVID-19 youth task force to support medical professionals during the worst outbreak in the city. She’s also promoting sustainability and clean energy as the ambassador of Vietnam Solar Energy Park.
Bringing with her the voice of Vietnam’s young generation and the hopes of her homeland, Duyen is getting ready to represent Vietnam at the Miss Supranational competition to be held in Poland later this year.