Global Reach: Vietnam

Year Work
Total Funds
Invested To Date

EMpower in VIETNAM

Vietnam has experienced significant development over the past three decades, transforming to a lower-middle income and increasing its GDP nearly three-fold. According to 2019 Census data, the total population of Vietnam is more than 96 million, making the country the third most populous in the Southeast Asia region following Indonesia and the Philippines[1]. In Vietnam, there is a greater prevalence of people living in the rural areas, making up for more than 65% of the population. Despite the country’s economic growth, there is high disparity between the rural and urban populations in Vietnam, especially impacting ethnic minorities. Over the past decade, there has been increased migration from rural to urban areas, especially for economic opportunities, and currently 34% of the population live in urban areas.

There are more than 50 minority ethnic groups in Vietnam, constituting about 14% of Vietnam's total population[2]. Most of these communities live predominantly in rural areas of the north and have experienced consistent poverty, accounting for 70% of Vietnam’s extreme poor[3].These disparities extend into health, education and livelihoods and have been further amplified because of the pandemic. The country took proactive measures to contain the virus and they had little incidence compared to other countries in the region. Despite its success in containing the virus, more than 21 million school children have had their studies impacted and unemployment increased, deeply impacting Vietnam’s economy and increasing poverty.

EMpower’s first partnership in Vietnam occurred in 2002 and since that time, EMpower has supported organizations that concentrate on career training and sexual and reproductive health education to youth, especially towards ethnic minority and rural youth.


Total population: 96.2 million

Young people in Vietnam make up 21% of the total population[4]

% urban/rural: 34.4% of the population lives in urban areas compared to 65.6% residing in urban areas, though there is an increased trend of 3% annually to urban areas (2020).

Vietnam is home to 54 ethnic groups. The official national language is Vietnamese, but Vietnam’s minority groups speak a variety of languages.


GDP per capita: 2,700 and growing

GINI index and rank: 35.7 (2018)

Food insecurity 6.3%

% of young people/girls with access to a mobile phone/internet (if <90%)

2018, only 66% of women in Vietnam had access to computer and even less had access to internet. Compared to 62% of men.

Key issues that affect youth:

Gender inequality

Vietnam ranks 87 if the Global Gender Gap report out of 153 countries 

Education (Quality education, SDG4)

Vietnam’s formal compulsory education system consists of 12 years of basic education, despite this there are disparities in access to and overall quality of education.

Linguistically diverse ethnic minority populations struggle with mandatory instruction in Vietnamese. This contributes to far lower enrollment ratios and education attainment among ethnic minority children. For example, primary completion rate for Kinh students was 86%, while the rate for ethnic minority children was only 61%. Girls from ethnic minorities face more challenges in accessing and attending the education system than their male counterparts.[5]

Livelihoods (Decent work and economic growth, SDG 8)

Vietnamese youth between the ages of 15-24 years accounting for nearly half of all unemployed.

More than 17.4% of adolescent girls are unemployed compared to 12% of adolescent boys (2019)

The participation in the workforce among youth ages 15-24 is particularly low, with less than 10% of young people in employment. Unemployed youth account for nearly half of the total unemployed population nationwide at 44.4%.

Health and well-being

11% of girls are married by the age of 18[6], though child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas of Vietnam





[4] USAID 2020

[5] UNICEF:; UNFPA: VNM_Ethnic_Groups_UNFPA


Other countries in Asia:

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