Last updated: Thursday, March 23, 2017
More Economic Empowerment for WomenPosted: Monday, March 13, 2017
This was the main theme of the Policy Event on Gender Equality held in Hanoi by the United Nations in Vietnam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. The event underscored the importance of continuing efforts and investment for women’s economic empowerment in a changing world of work. This was also the global theme that the UN and member states have chosen for 2017.
Vietnam has achieved remarkable and important economic growth in the past years. Vietnam is a dynamic economy with 73 per cent of its women engaged in the economy, compared with 65.5 per cent on average in ASEAN.
In addition, with the development of export-driven sectors, the proportion of female workers in industrial production areas grew faster than that of men, and the proportion of paid and insured women was higher than that of men - the majority group in the private sector.
Mr Dao Ngoc Dung, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and Chairman of the National Committee for Women’s Advancement, said, a range of support programmes and projects for women to access employment and labour market information have been efficiently deployed. In addition, credit incentives for disadvantaged households headed by women to help them escape from poverty have been a particular focus.
However, gender inequality in the labour market is still prevalent and limits the economic empowerment of women in Vietnam. Social norms where women are expected to do housework and take care of children, while ensuring a balance between housing and social work, are difficulties preventing women from seizing sustainable job opportunities. The presence of women’s leaders and decision-making positions in public and private sectors, policy barriers such as access to social security policies in the unofficial economic sector where a majority of workers is female is low.
Furthermore, the quality of jobs for women remains low and unstable. Female labourers usually work in areas of low professional qualifications and pay for women is normally lower than men. Notably, many companies focus on employing young labourers and female labourers aged between 18 and 20 years, which will be replaced soon after being employed. This also caused major women’s unemployment when they get old relative to employers’ age requirements.
Not only that, difficulties and challenges emerged in the process of carrying out policies on gender equality in labour and employment. The Labour Code only regulates areas concerned with labour relations, while women account for only 40.6 per cent and men make up 59.4 per cent there. Some discriminatory regulations against women such as retirement age and the list of jobs with no women allowed still exist.
Removing barriers in laws and social norms
Mr Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Vietnam, said that empowering women economically and ensuring the rights of women at the workplace is crucial to successfully implement the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), of which Vietnam is a member.
He said, the Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals aims to shape a future where no one is left behind, including women and girls. This cannot be achieved without the abolition of structural and discriminatory barriers in laws and practices to ensure decent employment opportunities for all women equally.
Malhotra presented and analysed major trends and issues with respect to empowering women in Vietnam in the context of the changing work world and put forth recommendations to include gender equality and economic empowerment for women at the heart of the national economic development agenda. During the discussion session, delegates suggested a number of recommendations on promoting the development and enforcement of law in Vietnam.
At the end of the meeting, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the United Nations pledged to keep working closely with relevant agencies and organisations in Vietnam to advance gender quality and economic empowerment of women in Vietnam. The two sides also suggested the goal of leaving no women behind in the development process.