"The war was tough - especially because of how cruel the American soldiers were. For example, once they came to the village and saw pregnant woman who thought was somehow having a relationship with a Vietnamese Communist. So they poured detergent and hot chili water into her mouth, and stood on her belly until they forced the baby out.
"At that time, I was only 15. I knew that the war had nothing to do with that woman and her baby. When I heard stories and witnessed the cruelty of the American soldiers, I felt great hatred towards the enemy. Because I was single and only 15 I thought, 'If I sacrifice myself, if I die, that would be easier than if I were married and had children.' So I joined the war.
"A woman's sacrifice is nothing - only like a grain of sand. But many of women, many grains, can contribute a lot, and those contributions can help the country.
"According to traditional Vietnamese culture, the woman is dependent on three things. First, she is dependent on her father. Then when she gets married, she is dependent on her husband's family. Whatever they say, she has to follow, even though sometimes she gets mistreated and is beaten. If her husband dies, then she has to follow her sons. As a woman, she is totally dependent on others. When I was young, I knew we had to figure out how to escape from this oppression. And the only way to do it was to follow the revolution.
"The war did change the position of women in society. After the war ended in 1975, the country tried to set a new standard for women. We called this the Woman of the New Life - they are faithful to the family, but they also have a chance to study and to be successful. Now, we can contribute to building society, and also take care of raising our children. The war made me a better mother, taught me a new way to raise my children - as a liberated woman."
Nguyêñ Thi Hoa, born 1948, photographed in her living room in in Hue, Vietnam. July 2010.