HCMC – To celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, Swedish Ambassador to Vietnam Ann Måwe became the first person to sign an open sending to social media companies this week, initiated by Plan International, calling for the building of a safe online environment for children and the youth, especially girls.
After signing the open sending at the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi, Ann Måwe met Phuong Anh, aged 21, Ambassador in the series of Girls Takeover events in 2019, and Y Nhi, 18, a member of Plan International’s Youth Advisory Committee.
During the meeting, Nhi addressed the situation of cyber bullying in Vietnam. “We love using social media. We simply want to share our own images and opinions, but we often receive harsh criticism,” she said.
“It is understandable today to see many images being edited carefully with gorgeous filters, somewhat different from the reality. Many can’t deal with criticism, some spiral into depression and others are even driven to suicide,” she added.
Ambassador Ann Måwe emphasized that parents and teachers must ensure the safety of children online, but they still need to respect their privacy.
“Many people argue that when girls and women publish information on the internet, they need to be prepared for judgment and criticism. But why don’t we turn this around to say that social media is a welcoming platform for all. Women and girls have the right to express themselves and their own perspectives on it. They deserve to be listened to, instead of receiving non-constructive criticism,” she said.
Through the “Safety Online for Girls” campaign, the Swedish Embassy in Vietnam and Plan International have called on everyone to participate to create a safer online environment for everyone, especially women and girls.
The increasing popularity of the Internet and social media, together with the discrimination driven by social traditions, has led to more serious online violence. According to Plan International’s survey, some 50% of girls said they face more online harassment than street harassment and 42% admitted to losing self-esteem or confidence as a result.
Of the girls who have been harassed, 37% from an ethnic minority said they get harassed because of their ethnicity or race. Some 56% of girls who are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or questioning attributed experiencing harassment to their sexual orientation.
Plan International is a child rights- and girl-focused organization working with communities in many countries to alleviate child poverty so that children can realize their full potential. In Vietnam, Plan International has been established since 1993. To date, the organization is working to improve the lives of more than 200,000 children, their families and communities in over 90 communes in nine provinces across the country.