In Viet Nam, “craft villages” are residential clusters at the village or commune level that produce one or more different types of handicraft products, while typically still being engaged in agricultural occupations. Although craft villages have created jobs and generated incomes in rural areas, the majority of workers employed are informal labourers and face many risks in production facilities, such as exposure to air pollution and other environmental pollution.
- In Viet Nam’s craft villages, workers experiencing pre-existing inequalities related to gender, age and other socioeconomic and cultural factors (e.g. income, migration status, gender norms, employee status, etc.) are more exposed to air pollution as an occupational hazard.
- Men tend to participate more in hazardous tasks, while earning higher wages in general. Women tend to earn lower wages in production facilities because their assigned work is typically perceived as less physically demanding. However, due to the nature of the tasks, women are largely confined within production facilities and spend more time being exposed to concentrated air pollution.
- Women tend to be more dependent on craft village work and have limited alternative livelihoods. They also report taking more time off for health-related reasons as a result of occupational exposures, which negatively affects their incomes.
- Although the majority of the labour force consists of middle-aged workers, young men are the most likely to undertake heavy work with the most direct exposure to pollutants.
- Migrant workers in craft villages tend to have prolonged exposure to air pollution due to living and working right next to the production facilities. Since many migrants only work in the craft villages temporarily, they are more willing to accept riskier jobs with higher exposure in exchange for a better income.
- Due to the informal nature of craft village work, mechanisms to protect worker rights are limited. Most workers are unaware of their labour rights, and employer commitment and resources to ensure worker protection are often lacking. Existing policies and regulations from the state and local governments are insufficient in accounting for the differentiated impacts of air pollution on workers.