The bandana woman general
1945 - 1954
The Bandana Woman General
Portrait of Ms. Nguyễn Thị Định
Vietnamese Women's Museum
Introduction

Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh was born March 15, 1920 in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom district,. In 1936, at 16 years old, she was guided by her brother to participate in revolutionary activities. In 1938 she became a member of the Indochina Communist Party.

In 1939 she married her revolutionary comrade Nguyen Van Bich, a member of the Ben Tre Provincial Party Committee. Three days after she gave birth to her son, her husband was detained and sentenced to 5 years exile on the prison island of Con Dao. He died shortly after. In July 1940, Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and her 7-month-old son were secretly arrested and detained in Ben Tre. Before being sent to Ba Ra Prison by the French colonial authorities in, she sent her son to her grandmother to be taken care of.

In 1944, she was released from the prison and continued her revolutionary activities. During the 1945 ‘struggle for authority’ she was the leader of thousands of people who came to take over power in Ben Tre town. In March 1946 she joined the delegation of Southern cadres as they crossed the sea to North Vietnam in order to report to the Party Central Committee and Uncle Ho about the situation of the Southern battlefield and to ask for 12 tons of weapons for the South.

She soon became the head of the Provincial Women’s Union, a member of the Inter-municipal Front, Provincial Commissioner of Ben Tre Province, Secretary of Mo Cay District, Secret Provincial Standing Committee of Ben Tre Province, Deputy Secretary of Ben Tre Province and leader of the Dong Khoi Movement in 1960.

Her name was associated with the Dong Khoi Movement and the birth of the women’s’ “long-haired Army”.

After the success of the Dong Khoi Movement, Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh held positions as the Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, President of the Liberation Front of South Vietnam, President of the Southern Liberation Women’s Union and Deputy Commander of the Liberation Forces of South Vietnam. In 1974, she was promoted to major general and became the first female general of the Vietnamese People’s Army.

After national liberation, she was elected a member of the 4th, 5th and 6th Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the 6th, 7th and 8th National Assembly. She concurrently held positions such as Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, Secretary of the Central Party Presidium of Vietnamese Women’s Union, Vice President of the State Council and President of Vietnam – Cuba Association. She also made contributions to the comprehensive renovation of the Communist Party of Vietnam, especially the activities of the National Assembly and the State Council. On August 30, 1995, she was awarded the title the Heroine of People’s Army Forces. She died on August 26 1992 at the age of 72.

The bandana woman general
Portrait of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh
Vietnamese Women's Museum
Section 1
Woman from the coconut land
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Luong Hoa Commune, Giong Trom District, Ben Tre Province
Vietnamese Women's Museum
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Childhood Memories
When I was 10, my family had for the time being, a sufficient amount of food and was no longer in great difficulties. This is because “the flock of magpies” of our 10 siblings could till the land, cultivate the garden and catch fish in rivers and streams. I, the youngest in the family, could not yet do hard work, so I often rowed a boat with my sister-in-law to sell fish and shrimps. Every day, she and I woke up and started rowing our boat by 2 or 3 a.m to reach the market by early morning.
Quoted from the Memoir “There is no other way” of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Giai Phong(Liberation) Publishing House, 1966
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The river running through Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom district, Ben Tre province, closely attached to Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh’s childhood
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The river running through Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom district, Ben Tre province, closely attached to Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh’s childhood

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The road to Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom, Ben Tre, the home town of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, 2019
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The land of coconut trees, home town of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, 2019
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The land of coconut trees, home town of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, 2019
The path to revolutionary enlightenment
Listening to my elder brother’s explanations, I started to understand and believe that taking part in the revolution was good, and because it was good, my brother kept doing even if he was tortured and jailed… Besides cooking food for them during their meetings, I was assigned the task of delivering letters, mobilizing and organizing people in the village and commune in mutual-help and friendship groups, carrying out propaganda activities and selling the newspaper “Dân chúng” (The masses) … I did everything with great enthusiasm.
Quoted from the Memoir “There is no other way” of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Giai Phong(Liberation) Publishing House, 1966
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Portrait of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh

Vietnamese Women's Museum
The bandana woman general
Portrait of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh

Vietnamese Women's Museum
Energetic in activities
After successfully completing the task of distributing leaflets on several occasions, I became very enthusiastic in going out to join in revolutionary activities. Sometimes, I returned home very late at night… I said to my elder brother: “Brother Ba, I want to take part in revolutionary activities rather than get married!”
Quoted from the Memoir “There is no other way” of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Giai Phong(Liberation) Publishing House, 1966
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Portrait of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh
Vietnamese Women's Museum
The bandana woman general
Portrait of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh
Vietnamese Women's Museum
Family separated because of imprisonment

After getting married to Mr. Bich, Nguyen Thi Dinh was formally called Mrs. Ba. She and her husband were always separated from each other because of revolutionary activities. In 1939, three days after giving birth to her son, her husband was arrested and exiled to Con Dao Prison. On July 18, 1940, during a short visit to her husband in the prison together with her son, he could only encourage her to try hard in her work and named their son On. On July 21 the same year, she was arrested and jailed in Ba Ra Prison (Binh Phuoc province) and had to send her son to her mother to be cared for.

According to “Woman General Nguyen Thi Dinh”, Women Publishing House, 2005
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Collage photo of the family of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, her husband and her son that she placed on her desk since 1975

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and her husband Nguyen Van Bich and friends at their wedding, Ben Tre, 1939 (Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh standing second from right)
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Nguyen Ngoc Minh (nickname On), the only son of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and Mr. Nguyen Van Bich
Losing husband when her son was less than a year old

In early 1944, 3 months after being set free from Ba Ra Prison, and not being fully recovered from bad health, Nguyen Thi Dinh received the news of her husband passing away due to the harsh prison conditions. Overcome by grief, she became mentally ill for several months. Looking at her child she nurtured her will for revenge for her husband. Her will, having being forged in prison, she continued her clandestine activities, in the guise of a dress maker.

Quoted from the Memoir “There is no other way” of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Giai Phong(Liberation) Publishing House, 1966
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Mr. Nguyen Van Bich, Dinh’s husband, former member of Ben Tre Provincial Party Executive Committee who laid down his life in Con Dao Prison in 1944
Sending a message of complete trust to her son
I always believe in your progress… For you, today, the more you miss your parents, your family, and the Southern people who are being terrorized and barbarously repressed by the US and the Diem regime … the harder you should strive in your study to contribute to the construction of North Vietnam toward socialism… This task is very glorious and great and it is the real expression of your love for your parents …
Quoted from the letter sent by Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh to her son Nguyen Van On when he was studying in the North 1959.
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The heart of a mother
After the triumph of the two general uprisings in early 1960, she received a secret instruction from the Zone Leadership: “Consolidate forces, develop the success of the general uprisings, and be vigilant of the enemy trying to attack our base…” Below the instruction there was a line “On, Ba’s son was sick and died on May 4, 1960”. She was so stunned and shocked by the news because she had just sent a letter by hand to him. She felt dizzy entered her bedroom and fainted on her bed.
According to “Missing Ms. Ba”, Social Science Publishing House, 1993
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh visiting the grave of her son Nguyen Ngoc Minh at Van Dien Cemetery, Hanoi, 1974
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh visiting the grave of her son Nguyen Ngoc Minh at Van Dien Cemetery, Hanoi, 1974

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh welcoming her mother-in-law from Dai Dien commune, Thach Phu district, Ben Tre province to take care of her in 1975
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh visiting her elder brother’s family in Luong Quoi commune, Giong Trom, Ben Tre, 1975
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and her maternal family members in Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom, Ben Tre, February 20, 1988
Section 2
The First Woman General in the 20th Century
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Portrait of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh
Vietnamese Women's Museum
The bandana woman general
Ben Tre – the Land of General Uprisings

After 1954, Ben Tre was the key target of pacification by the Ngo Dinh Diem administration. In early 1960, after receiving Resolution 15 of the Party Central Committee, Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh personally led the first General Uprising (17/1/1960) in three communes: Dinh Thuy, Binh Khanh and Phuoc Hiep in Mo Cay district, Ben Tre province to success. This started the General Uprising movement in Ben Tre province. The second uprising took place in Giong Trom district and spread later to the entire South of Vietnam.

According to “Woman General Nguyen Thi Dinh”, Women Publishing House, 2005
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Rising up with sticks in our hands to regain power
In the great uprising to take over Ben Tre Town, I was assigned to hold the flag and lead thousands of people with knives and sticks in their hands, upholding red flags and banners who converged into the provincial capital. The demonstrators traveled nonstop on foot dozens of kilometers without feeling tired or hungry.
Quoted from the Memoir “There is no other way” of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Giai Phong Publishing House, 1966
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Painting: The “Long hair army” by Painter Le Dan, husband of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh’s niece
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Painting: The “Long hair army” by Painter Le Dan, husband of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh’s niece

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Drilling with scimitars in preparation for the General Uprising in Vinh Hung, Soc Trang province, 1960
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People protesting with revolutionary spirit in the General Uprising Movement in Ben Tre, 1960
The power of the Long haired army

In face of a large fully armed enemy force, Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh mobilized women to take to the streets in political struggle. Starting February 27, 1960, 5000 women on hundreds of boats carrying small children, blankets and mosquito nets converged into the District centre of Mo Cay Town. Protesting enemy crimes, they caused a stir in the whole district. After nearly a week, the enemy had to negotiate, promising to withdraw mop-up troops. Since then the Long haired army came into existence adopting the name given to them by the US-Diem army.

According to “Nguyen Thi Dinh – A Heroic Woman General”, National Political Publishing House, 2015
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Protesters converged on Ben Tre Town to demand welfare and democracy from the Saigon dictatorship
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Giong Trom women, Ben Tre province in a political protest, 1962
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Ben Tre women demonstrating against the US-Thieu
Resolute in commanding General Uprisings
In late 1959, after receiving the directive of the Regional Party Committee on the implementation of a Resolution of the 15th Session of the Party Central Committee to combine political struggle with armed struggle, Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh held a meeting of the Party Executive Committee of Ben Tre province. The General Secretary was absent on a mission and she worried about missing the opportunity to act if she waited for him to return. As Deputy General Secretary she decided to conduct the General Uprising. She thought; “if it is a wrong decision, I will take full responsibility, and if it is a correct decision, we’ll take this initial success forward”. With this timely and resolute resolve she led the General Uprising Movement to success
Excerpt from "Nguyen Thi Dinh - heroine general", National Political Publishing House, 2015
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Tài thao lược
Ms. Ba Dinh personally led the General Uprising in Ben Tre. When studying specifically and systematically this famous uprising, I was surprised at her organizational talent and ability to mobilize forces, her level of planning and implementation and the art of leadership and coping with the situation… The highlight of this movement was a talent for strategy and the will and the art of operating as the commander of the long-haired army. It is extremely complicated to organize while conducting the fight in the battlefields …
Senior Lieutenant General Tran Van Tra, Member of the Party Central Committee, Commander of Military Zone 7
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Women from Chau Thanh Commune, Tien Giang Province conducting political struggle, 1970
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Women from Chau Thanh Commune, Tien Giang Province conducting political struggle, 1970

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Women from Chau Thanh Commune, Tien Giang Province conducting political struggle
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The long-haired army of An Dien commune, Tay Nam, Ben Cat, struggling face-to-face with the Saigon administration in Thu Dau Mot Town
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The long-haired army demonstrating against the enemy for mopping up operatons involving the killing of innocent people and destroying their crops
A beloved mother and sister

In those days, the battlefields were full of bomb smoke, material life was difficult and soldiers thirsted for family affection. Wherever we saw the Deputy Commander we, the fighters, surrounded her and called her “Sister Ba”, “Ms. Ba”. Some of us were even kittenish in asking for her gifts … Everyone was laughing. It was a very warm atmosphere in the thick jungle of the battlefields.

Dang Van Nhung- a fighterr of the South Vietnam Liberation Armed Forces
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and fighters at a break during an operation

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and fighters at a break during an operation
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and a delegation of the South Vietnam Liberation Women’s Union on a lunch break during a crossing of the Truong Son mountain range to visit North Vietnam in late 1973
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and her assistant Nguyen Thi Man (her niece) at the Regional Command, Ta Thiet, Loc Thanh, Loc Ninh, Binh Phuoc province, 1968
Section 3
A talented and close woman leader
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and her companions in arms on the battlefield in South Eastern Vietnam, 1973
Vietnamese Women's Museum
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Visiting a military unit, April 1973
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Visiting a Vietnam Naval Force unit, March 1974
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Visiting Missile Battalion 77, March 1974
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and delegates at Binh Tri Thien Women’s Congress, 1981
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh talking with delegates at the 5th Women’s Congress in Quang Nam – Da Nang province, 1981
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh talking with delegates at the 5th Women’s Congress in Quang Nam – Da Nang province, 1981
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh speaking at the Conference of South Western Vietnam women officials in charge of women’s agitation work, August 5, 1985
Ms. Ba’s wishes
Once I met Ms. Ba, she held my hand and said with urgent words: Throughout her life, she only wished for women of her country who endured years of poverty, illiterate due to the danger of war, worry about fighting the enemy. Now escaping chaos, are educated, and know how to do business with people ... In 1992, I opened an enterprise class for women with 71 students and donated 50 sewing machines to develop Ben Tre province’s center for vocational training for women ...
Nguyen Tri Dung, Japanese overseas Vietnamese, founder of Tri Dung Business School
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and delegates at the International Workshop “Vocational training to create jobs and increase income for women”, Hanoi, October 1987
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and delegates at the International Workshop “Vocational training to create jobs and increase income for women”, Hanoi, October 1987

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh visiting An Hiep Agricultural Cooperative, Chau Thanh district, Ben Tre, 1984
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh visiting An Hiep Sugar Cane Cooperative, Chau Thanh district, Ben Tre, 1984
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Prime Minister Pham Van Dong, Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh and women of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Hanoi, January 1985
A talented and erudite woman leader

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh leading a delegation of the State Council on an inspection of Military Zone 7, 1988
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh talking with veteran revolutionaries at the 6th Congress of Women Representatives in Son La Province, 1987
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh speaking at an inspection visit to the Home Affairs Sector of Ben Tre Provincial Party Committee, October 1989
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh at a meeting between the Council of Ministers and Vietnam Women’s Union, Hanoi, 1990
The "Ambassador" of friendship
Perhaps she is the Vietnamese who has the most friends in the world, from the common people to the famous heads of state of many different political regimes ... she brought her friends to the support of the nation. . and that is one of the most important factors that determined Vietnam's extraordinary victory over the past century
Excerpt from "Nguyen Thi Dinh - heroine general", National Political Publishing House, 2015
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Fidel Castro, First General Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee of Cuba and President of the State Council, welcoming Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, on her visit to Cuba, July 18, 1974
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Fidel Castro, First General Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee of Cuba and President of the State Council, welcoming Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, on her visit to Cuba, July 18, 1974

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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh on a working visit to General Batov of the Soviet Armed Forces during her visit to the Soviet Union, July 1982
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh receiving Ms. Aruna Asap Ali, President of the Indian Women’s Federation during her visit to Vietnam, April 7, 1983
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh signing a Friendship Agreement between Vietnam and Cuba, September 1988
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Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dinh presenting the Signed Letter in response to the call to celebrate International Year of Peace by the International Union of Democratic Women International, March 8, 1986.
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Mrs. Nguyen Thi Dinh presenting the Signed Letter in response to the call to celebrate International Year of Peace by the International Union of Democratic Women International, March 8, 1986.
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Mr. Nguyen Xuan, Vietnamese ambassador to Laos and Ms. Khamsuk Vongvichit at a ceremony to present the
Devoting to building a museum for women
During every meeting, she always spent time reminding, encouraging and praising those who donated to building the museum. She took the opportunity when attending meetings of the Party Central Committee and the National Assembly and during her missions to meet local leaders and deputies to ask for their assistance in the building of the museum. She also suggested that people find rare and precious objects and she herself collected objects during her missions to give to the museum.
Dang Thi To Ngan - first Director of Vietnamese Women’s Museum
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Vice President of State Council, President of Vietnam Women’s Union Nguyen Thi Dinh and Minister of Culture and Information Tran Van Phac cutting the ribbon to inaugurate the exhibition “President Ho Chi Minh and the cause of women’s emancipation”, March 8, 1990

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Vice President of State Council, President of Vietnam Women’s Union Nguyen Thi Dinh and Minister of Culture and Information Tran Van Phac cutting the ribbon to inaugurate the exhibition “President Ho Chi Minh and the cause of women’s emancipation”, March 8, 1990


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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh addressing the conference on construction of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hanoi, December 8-13, 1986
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh approving the mock-up of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum at the Hanoi Department of Construction, 1991
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh meeting a delegation of ethnic minority women from Ha Tuyen province during their visit to a special exhibition at Vietnamese Women’s Museum, 1990
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Ms. Hoang Thị Ai Nhien, Vice president of the Vietnam Women’s Union presenting flowers to leaders over years of the Vietnamese Women's Museum, October 27, 2017
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Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, Member of the Party Central Committee, President of the Vietnam Women’s Union, presenting flowers to Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Van, Director of the Vietnamese Women's Museum on the inauguration of new permanent exhibition, Hanoi, October 20, 2010
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Vietnamese Women’s Museum after 30 years of contributions and development.
Objects

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Poem carved on wood: "Oh Vietnam, Thank you" by Ana Maria for Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh in 1981 during a visit to Vietnam by a delegation of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front of El Salvador to the 5th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, March 1982
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Handbag used by Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh to contain donated money for the construction of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum during her working visits to different localities, 19924. Áo bà ba của Bà Nguyễn Thị Định thường mặc đi làm việc từ năm 1984-1992
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Glasses used by Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh during 1988-1992
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Cosmetics box of Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh
PHẦN KẾT
Brightening forever
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Leaders of Hanoi People’s Committee and delegates at a ceremony to unveil the street sign named after Nguyen Thi Dinh, September 1, 2007

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President of the State Council Vo Chi Cong presenting the Ho Chi Minh Medal to Ms. Nguyen Thi Dinh, Hanoi, March 1990
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Temple dedicated to General Nguyen Thi Dinh, in Phong Dien Village, Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom district, Ben Tre province
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Temple dedicated to General Nguyen Thi Dinh, in Phong Dien Village, Luong Hoa commune, Giong Trom district, Ben Tre province
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Ben Tre Provincial Women’s Union presenting Nguyen Thi Dinh Scholarships to poor, studious pupils
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