In 1995, Thuy was dismissed from her construction company, a state-owned enterprise she’d worked at for 13 years as a cook. When the 18-year old Thuy first joined the company, her job had been guaranteed until retirement under Vietnam’s socialist policy. But things changed in 1986, when the government initiated market reforms known as Doi Moi, or Renovation. Loss-making state enterprises began laying off hundreds of thousands of workers.

Two-thirds of these workers were women.

“They fired all the women, because women couldn’t travel far for construction projects, while the number of projects was falling,” Thuy tells New Naratif of her old company.

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Lam Le is a freelance journalist based in Hanoi, Vietnam. Her reporting focuses on migration, gender and other social issues. Visit her website for more info: