British Ambassador to Viet Nam Gareth Ward: Women’s participation is key to sustainable peace

British Ambassador to Viet Nam Gareth Ward underlines that the women’s participation in peace process need to be more promoted at the national and regional levels as well as all around the world.

On the sidelines of ASEAN Workshop on mainstreaming the women, peace and security agenda in ASEAN community pillars, British Ambassador to Viet Nam Gareth Ward showed his support for Viet Nam in particular and ASEAN in general on enhancing the role of women in the context of new security challenges in the region.

What is your opinion about the theme of the workshop of mainstreaming the women, peace and security agenda in ASEAN community pillars?

The UK is pleased to be working with Viet Nam and ASEAN to organize ASEAN Workshop on mainstreaming the women, peace and security agenda in ASEAN community pillars for two reasons below.

Firstly, we know that if women are involved in peacebuilding, then peace is more sustainable. Unfortunately, at the moment, the number of women involved in peacemaking and peace building is low and we need to increase that.

Secondly, we know that the level of sexual violence in conflict as well as in COVID-19 pandemic is increasing significantly. Therefore, we need to have legislation and practical measures to reduce this situation.

I'm very pleased to see Vietnamese female peacekeepers who are working in Africa and are contributing to resolving conflict and to reducing the level of sexual violence.

What are the British Embassy supports for Vietnamese women to encourage them to participate in peace and security activities?

The British Embassy in Ha Noi is currently working together with the Vietnam's Ministry of National Defence. We are conducting training for peacekeepers on how to identify and prevent sexual violence in conflict zones.

This cooperation has lasted two years already and the Vietnamese peacekeepers who are working in South Sudan and elsewhere in Africa are doing an excellent job.

We will continue to fund that type of training and we will also work more broadly with ASEAN, including on the peace builders and mediators network that forward more women to take leadership positions.

ASEAN Workshop on mainstreaming the women, peace and security agenda in ASEAN community pillars on February 11 in Ha Noi. (Photo: Nguyen Hong).

COVID-19 pandemic has deepened social inequality and threatened to set back peace processes. Therefore, what can we do to support women and girls in dealing with this situation?

COVID-19 pandemic has had a tougher impact on women and girls with the rise of domestic violence.

Among many problems women and girls face, we deeply concern about education problem. If girls go to school for a full year of education, that increases their life chances and reduces the likelihood of domestic violence.

Hence, we are promoting girls’ education across Asia to make sure that 100% of girls go to school for the full schooling to minimize the impact of pandemic on the goals of maintaining sustainable peace.

How do you assess the efforts of Viet Nam to strengthening the women's role?

In the 2020–2021 term of non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Viet Nam organized international conference “Strengthening women's role in building and sustaining peace: from commitments to results” (December 2020). This conference led to a new series of commitments by many countries and it was an excellent outcome.

At the same time, we realize that Vietnamese legislation is being updated to protect women and children.

I would highlight one challenge in the process of enhancing women's role in Viet Nam, it is sex selection at birth. It's still the case that in Viet Nam, some parents choose only to have boys as children not girls. This leads to gender imbalance in society and that's something which is harmful for the whole of society.

We hope that the attitude of male chauvinism in some Vietnamese families can be changed in the future.

Thank you so much!