Younger men in urban areas more open to sharing housework with wive, report reveals

“These are signs of a positive shift from the traditional divisions of labour,” Dr Khuat Thu Hong, head of the Institute of Social Development Studies (ISDS) and one of the researchers, said.

“No-name” work is time consuming, repetitive and often intensive, but is not recognised, nor paid, nor respected by family members.

Younger men in urban areas tend to be more open to negotiating the sharing of housework, to their spouses working outside the home and to making shared large purchase decisions with their partners, according to the report titled ‘Men and Masculinities in a Globalising Vietnam’ - the first large-scale study on men and masculinities in Vietnam and was conducted by ISDS with support from the National Foundation for Science and Technology of Viet Nam (NAFOSTED) and Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian government.

It interviewed roughly 2,500 working-age Vietnamese men living in Hanoi, HCM City and Khanh Hoa and Hoa Binh provinces about their views on masculinity and gender equality.

A quarter of the men surveyed by ISDS said they feel pressured to conform to societal expectations of their gender roles.

Among the men who said they felt life pressures, 80 percent attributed it to financial concerns while 70 percent cited the push to do well in their careers.

While noting the prevalence of traditional masculinity norms, ISDS also pointed to positive shifts in the perceptions of gender roles.

“38.8 percent of urban men aged 18 to 29 share cooking with their spouses compared with 24.2 percent among those 60 years old or older,” Dr Hong said.

Speaking at the report launching event on November 4, Lucy Phillips, First Secretary for Economic and Development Cooperation at the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, said the report highlights the important role of men in advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in Vietnam.

“This is the first large-scale study on this issue in Vietnam, and shows us how important it is to engage men in the conversation about women’s empowerment in all societies,” Phillips said, adding that the report comes at a crucial time, as Vietnam recovers from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

“The findings suggest that urbanisation, educational achievements, and improved economic conditions are helping to challenge stereotypes, and better enable both men and women to achieve their full potential both at home and in the workplace,” Phillips said.

In 2018, the Department of Gender Equality under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and ActionAid Vietnam (AAV), announed the report "Unpaid care work: Redistribution for sustainable development" which showed that women spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on UCW, 32 hours a week, 207 days a year. Thus, every year women spend nearly 7 months on UCW.

If this job is paid at the minimum wage, women can earn VND 2.56 million (USD 112) a month and over VND 30 million (USD 1.320) a year. This is the number that has been mentioned in both studies on unpaid work that has been implemented by AAV and its partners including "When the house become a home" in 2016 and "Love is Sharing "in 2017. Speaking figures are again highlighted in this new report which shows the effect of unequal distribution of UCW on women, men, society and economy.

This report also includes the following figures: 54 working days per year are the time a woman in a district in Ha Giang can save if she can access clean water and sanitation; 50 hours per month are the average time a woman has children under 6 years of age for child care; Five million hours a month are the time when women can save if the government and the private sector invest more than 100,000 kindergartens; VND 1.1 trillion (USD 48.4 million) annually is the contribution of women to the economy each year if they invest time in paid care, rather than on unpaid work. At the same time, women can raise their family income by VND 920,000 (USD 40.48) a month.

Tu Pham