UNICEF remarks at the meeting with international organisations

Hanoi, 5th March 2008





Dear Madam Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, Member of the Executive Committee of the Central Communist Partyof Vietnam, President of the Vietnam Women’s Union,

Dear Madam Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, Alternate Member of the Executive Committee of the Central Communist Partyof Vietnam, Vice President of the Vietnam Women’s Union,

Dear colleagues from international agencies and organizations,

Dear friends,


On this special occasion, UNICEF pays its special tribute to the Viet Nam Women’s Union great accomplishments and contributions for the advancement of women nationally and internationally. We would like to congratulate the success of the 10th National Women’s Congress and its new leaders for the tenure 2007-2012.


With its outreach network reaching throughout the country including down to the village level, VWU has been a dynamic and successful partner with UNICEF throughout many endeavors.These include previous Country Programmes of Cooperation, the Women in Development Programme 1991-1995, and the Gender and Development Programme 1996-200.Since 2001, VWU has been a co-implementing partner with us for Early Childhood Development, Healthy Living and Life Skills Education for Out-of-School Adolescents (now called Adolescent Development and Participation), as well as Rights Promotion and Child Protection. We will continue to rely o­n your extensive experience as we seek to improve the lives of women and children in Vietnam together.


The "Doi Moi” (Renovation) policy has proved successful for the national economic growth; however, the effectiveness of the social service infrastructure is being threatened, largely by growing disparities between geographical regions and income disparities.


According to the living standard survey (VHLSS 2004), 19.5% of the population and 7.8% of households are living under the international poverty line and international food poverty line, respectively. Ethnic minority areas are significantly poorer than areas where the Kinh majority live. While the shift to a market-oriented economy has created new opportunities and economic benefits for many, it has also created new pressures, especially for the poorest families. This is especially true in rural areas where living standards have improved at a much lower rate.


With respect to gender equality, Vietnam is o­ne of the more advanced countries in the region having made significant progress in reducing the gender gaps in social, economic, and political areas.However, the progress has not been uniformly experienced across all groups, and traditional beliefs and attitudes about the role of women and men continue to underlie a gender inequality that generally leads to lower status and disadvantages for girls and women.In addition to the third Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women Viet Nam (to 2010), Viet Nam’s new Law o­n Gender Equality (19 December 2006)and the Law o­n Domestic Violence (21 November 2007[j1]),provides the legal framework for improving the conditions of women in all spheres of life.Weak implementation and enforcement capacity, however, remain as major obstacles to achieving real change.


In addition, Viet Nam is o­ne of the countries very vulnerable to natural disasters.Climate change models predict that Viet Nam will become more vulnerable to typhoons, storms, floods and droughts. Floods and droughts are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in northern and central provinces. Over o­ne million people need emergency relief each year due to natural calamities, and these are a major cause of families falling back into poverty.


In late 2007Viet Nam ratified the Convention o­n Persons with Disabilities. This is an important step for improving the national response to persons with disabilities, so that they may live in an inclusive society, free of discrimination or stigma.


During the upcoming years, UNICEF will continue its efforts in the following areas: promoting healthy lives; providing quality education; protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence; combating HIV/AIDS by putting children‘s rights first, including the protection, care and support of children affected by HIV/AIDS; and managing the Avian and Human Influenza pandemic threat.Within UNICEF’s main strategy of the Country Program of Cooperation with the Government of Vietnam, as well as the promotion and popularization of the frameworks of CRC/CEDAW, gender will be mainstreamed in all UNICEF programmes/projects.


Great strides have been achieved in the improvement of the situation of women and children in Vietnam, nevertheless, some traditional discriminatory attitudes are re-emerging. Girls’ equal access to education, health care and food is sometimes threatened, while their economic and sexual exploitation is o­n the rise. Poverty also affects women more severely than men, and they face greater hardship in lifting themselves, and their children out of poverty.


Once again, we would like to express our deep appreciation for the long-standing and close partnership between VWU and UNICEF, especially through its collaboration in those programs and projects that have offered support for the poorest and most disadvantaged women and children in Vietnam.


Thank you very much for your attention.