Toward True Gender Equality

10:03:37 AM | 11/3/2020

The Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Forum 2020 themed “Ring the bell: For a prosperous and sustainable economy” was recently opened in Hanoi. This is an initiative of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC), UN WOMEN and the European Union Delegation to Vietnam to call on the business community to join hands to foster the private sector regarding gender equality.

Not actually gender equality

Dr. Vu Tien Loc, President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said, Vietnam's core competitiveness in the volatile world is the resilience of Vietnamese businesses, especially women-owned businesses. Vietnam has about 200,000 women-owned businesses out of about 800,000, accounting for 25%. Notably, the rate is about 30% in micro small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). In household businesses, the rate is more than 50%. Women thus decide the future of Vietnam's economy, he said.

“Currently, three most important drivers for the growth of an economy in the future are MSMEs, women and the internet. These three driving forces, once used effectively, boom economic growth,” he affirmed.

Ms. Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Chief Representative of UN Women in Vietnam, said, half of the world's population is women. Thus, an economy that fails to fully tap women's capabilities wastes half of human resources. Women’s economic empowerment is not only a social responsibility but also an economically good approach.

According to global research data released by the McKinsey Institute, if we achieved significant gender equality, the world’s GDP would increase by US$12,000 billion by 2025. Vietnam has achieved remarkable results in gender equality, but this issue remains a major challenge for it. According to Ms. Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Vietnamese women still have lower wages than men and face major barriers in career development. They are discriminated against on the job market.

Women-owned businesses are facing many obstacles in business, including limited access to resources. They lack qualified human resources, knowledge and ICT skills.

Promoting sustainable development requires women’s participation

Ms. Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC), said, the economy in general and businesses in particular will be unlikely to promote sustainable development if it lacks women’s active, responsible and creative participation.

According to the 10-year review report on enactment of the Law on Gender Equality conducted by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, 48.3% of the social labor force are women. 70% of women of working age are in the labor force. Nearly 28% of women hold managerial positions in the business. About 45% of employment income belongs to women.

If gender equality is achieved in the economic sector, global GDP will increase by US$12 trillion by 2025. If gender equality is achieved in the workplace, GDP in the Asia-Pacific region will increase by US$3.2 trillion. If the gender gap in the labor market narrows by 25% by 2025, global GDP will increase by US$5.3 trillion.

If a woman is added to the management board, the business will increase by 8-13 points of return on assets (ROE). Companies in the Top 25% of gender diversity have 15% higher returns than the industry median. According to Ms. Minh, businesses need to see gender equality as an important condition to increase labor productivity, reduce costs, increase profits and social welfare for employees and foster sustainable business development.

Ms. Ha Thi Nga, Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women's Union, enhancing women’s economic empowerment and promoting their access to equal opportunities in employment, capacity building, promotion and supply chain participation, will tap the potential and strengths of each gender. This is an important foundation for achieving prosperity and sustainability of each business and each country.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum