From The New York Times this week:
They had no plan to break barriers or cause trouble. But 30 years ago in this bucolic village in northern Vietnam, the fierce determination of one group of women to become mothers upended centuries-old gender rules and may have helped open the door for a nation to redefine parenthood.
We toss around the phrase “it takes a village” all too often. There is true value and legitimacy within those words, but a village in northern Vietnam is living it beyond its basic definition. Breaking tradition and facing hardships, women who no longer had husbands got pregnant and moved to the village of Loi to raise their children among others like them.
While these single women still face many hardships, their families – regardless of how nontraditional they seem by Vietnamese standards – have finally been recognized by the government as legal and have started to benefit from government initiatives.
Those who remain have upgraded their huts to real homes, with small gardens. Their children, now grown, send a portion of their small salaries to support their mothers. None of the women see themselves as pioneers, nor do they dwell on the impact of the choices they made.
“I don’t know if I ever served as inspiration,” said one, who did not want to be identified to preserve her privacy and that of her son. “I just worked on my own decisions. I just wanted to be a mother. No one could change my mind.”