Two Vietnamese among world’s 100 most influential women


Founder of a vocational training center for disabled people, Van Thi Nguyen, and conservationist Trang Nguyen are in the BBC 100 women 2019 list.

Van, CEO and a co-founder of the Will to Live Center, was born with spinal muscular atrophy, but she never let it stop her from chasing her dreams. Based on her brother’s suggestion “to train disabled people, show them how to use technology and English to connect with the world,” she founded the center in 2003.

She told the BBC: “We have had more than 1,000 graduates, 80 to 90 percent of them are now employed. Some of them are their family’s breadwinners.”

Van Thi Nguyen and her husband. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Van Thi Nguyen and her husband. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Duong.

Van, 33, wants the environment in Vietnam to enable people with talent and devotion to develop, “instead of people feeling like they need to move abroad to use their skills.”

Seeking to create an equal working environment for everyone, she also runs social enterprise Imagator, which employs 80 people, half of them disabled.

The other Vietnamese in the list, Trang, is a wildlife conservationist. Growing up in Vietnam and seeing from a young age monkeys chained up for sale on the streets and bears held to extract bile, she travels to preservation sites, safaris and national parks to save animals.

Trang, 29, is also the founder of WildAct, that monitors the illegal wildlife trade and organizes education programs for youth.

“For the future of nature conservation, it is important that women’s voices are heard and their actions are recognized,” the BBC quoted Trang as saying.

Last year she won the nature conservation prize, the Future For Nature Award, and was nominated for the Women of the Future Awards Southeast Asia for her contribution in global wildlife conservation.

Trang working at Burger Zoo, Netherlands. Photo courtesy of Trang Nguyen.

Trang at Burger Zoo, Netherlands. Photo courtesy of Trang Nguyen.

The BBC’s annual list, which this year poses the question what the future would look like if it were driven by women, also includes U.S. congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mexican Oscar nominee Yalitza Aparicio, and Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.