Vietnam works to enhance gender equality

Since the 1946 Constitution, the first Constitution of Vietnam, laws and policies on gender equality have been developed.

A Gala dinner to connect businesswomen. Source: VOV

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Head Representative of UN Women in Vietnam, says Vietnam has made much progress in gender equality. The UN has recognized Vietnam as one of the countries making fast progress in narrowing the gender gap over the last two decades.

Equal rights for men and women is mentioned in the first lines of the UN Charter adopted 75 years ago. Vietnam has worked to realize this goal. Since the 1946 Constitution, the first Constitution of Vietnam, laws and policies on gender equality have been developed.

Gender parity in education has been achieved at the primary school level and, almost there at the lower secondary level also.

In employment, women’s participation in the workforce is almost as high as men’s (72.5% and 82.4% respectively). The participation of ethnic minority women in the labor force is also increasing, especially in the fields of education and health.

Another significant achievement is that in the new Labor Code, the reduction in the gap of retirement age - will bring a lot of opportunities for socio-economic growth of the country.

The maternal mortality rate has fallen from 233 per 100,000 live births in the 1990s to 69 per 100,000 live births in 2009 and 58.3 per 100,000 live births in 2016 – a dramatic improvement.

In politics, women hold many key positions including Politburo member (3/17), member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (20), National Assembly Chairwoman and Vice Chairwoman, Vice President, Minister (01) and Deputy Minister (11). The percentage of female National Assembly deputies in 2017 was 26.7 per cent, one of the highest percentages in the region.

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the first female leader of Vietnam’s legislature. Photo: VNA

National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, the first female leader of Vietnam’s legislature, says gender quality and women’s rights are clearly defined in Vietnam’s policy and Constitution and guaranteed in practice.

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are unswerving policies of the Vietnamese State. The 1946 Constitution and later Constitutions specify that men and women have equal rights. Based on the Constitution the Vietnamese National Assembly has imposed a system of legal documents to protect and promote women’s rights, empower women, and oversee the enforcement of law and Government policies,” Ngan said.

Vietnam issued the Law on Gender Equality in 2006, which defined the duties of government agencies and People’s Committees at all levels with respect to gender equality management.

Nguyen Thi Ha, Deputy Minister of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs and Deputy Head of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women, said: “Vietnam has made positive changes in the awareness and actions of leaders, officials, state employees, and the general public, which has raised the status of women in the family and society. Vietnam has risen in the global ranking for gender equality.”

Vietnam has improved gender equality in multiple sectors. Female deputies make up 27% of the National Assembly, high compared to other parliaments in the region. Women hold many important positions in the political system, and contribute significantly to national construction and development.

Vietnam has joined multiple conventions on gender quality and women’s empowerment, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and enacted the Law on Gender Equality in 2005 and the National Strategy on Gender Equality in 2010.

Vietnam has also done its part in promoting gender equality globally. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, said that Vietnam is a nation in Asia-Pacific gaining much progress in gender equality. The UNFPA acknowledges Vietnam’s results in promoting human rights and leadership, particularly in healthcare and education, by improved legal framework and constitution.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also an important basis for a peaceful and prosperous society, said Naomi Kitahara.

Gender equality is facing new challenges from the 4th Industrial Revolution, natural disasters, climate change, and demographic changes. Vietnam will have to work hard to sustain its gains in gender equality and surmount new problems. The Vietnamese government has asked for greater effort and participation from ministries, sectors, governmental and social organizations, and UN agencies in order to reach the development goals for 2030.

Thu Hoa