Skin-whitening, child marriage, a curtailed education: Vietnamese model and literacy campaigner H’Hen Nie has defied traditional expectations laid on her — and is now determined to show the next generation a different way.
The 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam winner, who hails from the Ede ethnic minority group in the Central Highlands, was 14 years old when her farmer mother suggested she find a husband.
“I was really scared of getting married. At that time I liked to swim, slide down slopes and play in the forest,” the 28-year-old tells AFP.
She was being led down the path of many poor, marginalised ethnic minority children in Vietnam — marrying young, dropping out of school, and having a slimmer shot of making it to positions of power compared to the country’s Kinh majority.
But H’Hen had other plans, explaining: “I was competitive and I loved to study. And I had lots of