We've joined up with four HERproject brands as part of a campaign to promote and accelerate leadership for and by women. As part of this, we asked Phan Bich Thuy, a HERhealth Peer Educator at a factory in Hai Duong, Vietnam, for her experiences of and views on this topic.
How do you understand your role as a peer educator?
I have been a doctor for a very long time. I graduated in 1982. I come to teach people, like a professor or a doctor, but I also play a role like a sister, a mother, a friend. I train women on health topics—basic health care, like nutrition, family planning, STIs, pre-netal and post-natal care, and childcare.
Why do you think it's important to share the knowledge you have?
I learned about these topics since I started at medical school. I have become familiar with teaching these topics for HERproject for about eight years. They are very important topics because it is the daily healthcare for the women themselves, for their families, and for the members of their communities. So I think that teaching these women is very meaningful because they can keep themselves healthy, they then can take care of their family members, and they can spread the knowledge out to the community or to the other workers in the workplace. People increase their knowledge and have better health practices, so they will have better health.
What positive impacts have you seen as a result of your leadership?
Sometimes women come to me and share problems or questions: how to take care of their children if they have this symptom or that symptom. Sometimes it is the early symptom of a disease, and I advise them to take that child to the hospital early. The problem becomes simpler if they access health early, like that.
One story that I remember, which I heard from a student, is that thanks to the knowledge they learned in the class, they already advised one woman who had a symptom of an ectopic pregnancy—a pregnancy outside the uterus. They advised the woman to go to the hospital early enough. If that had not happened, it could have resulted in a death.
I see my students come to the class looking happy, sharing with me that they can do things to their families or give advice to other workers. And at the same time as I teach them about healthcare, I teach them some life skills, like communication within the family, problem solving, things like that.