Initial achievements in gender mainstreaming in policy formulation

In Vietnam, nowadays gender awareness is still influenced by Confucianism. The patriarchal social relations between men and women result in dependant and secondary position of women in the family.

In order to address the inequality and increase women’s status in family and society, the Party’s and State’s guidelines o­n equality between men and women have been incorporated systematically into the State’s policies, laws and programs of actions. This is seen in 1946 Constitution: All Vietnamese citizens, regardless men and women, have equal rights in all fieldsof political, economic, cultural and social life….Women’s rights are also clearly reflected in a number of legal documents, including Labor Code, Law o­n Marriage and Family…The Party and the Government of Vietnam issued Resolutions and Instructions showing their commitment for the advancement of women in Vietnam (such as Resolution 04-NQ/TW; Instruction 37-CT/TW) and very recently, the Prime Minister approved the National Strategy for the Advancement of Women to the year 2010.


Despite policies and mechanisms to help achieve gender equality, Vietnam still faces many constraints in gender equality promotion in policy formulation and execution. The efforts of Vietnam Women’s Union in this area in the past just focused mainly o­n women’s issues and in general not addressed strategic and mechanism-related matters, which are the root causes of gender inequality.


For the last few decades, there have been several approaches to achieving gender equality in the world, such as Women in Development (WID), Gender and Development (GAD). However, these approaches have not addressed critically gender inequality.


Therefore, gender mainstreaming approach was introduced. In the Fourth World Conference o­n Women held in 1995 in Beijing, gender mainstreaming was unanimously adopted by international community as a strategic measure to promote gender equality.


Gender mainstreaming, according to the United Nation’s definition is “a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality decreases”.


At present the Government through multilateral and bilateral cooperation with international organizations has applied apply gender mainstreaming in some fields, for instant “Gender in Public” policy under the NCFAW-UNDP-Netherlands project VIE 01-015-01 approved by the Government of Vietnam and coordinated and implemented by NCFAW (National Committee for the Advancement of Women’s in Vietnam).


One of the project objectives is to strengthen capacity for the national machineries for the advancement of women to promote gender equality in Vietnam. A range of activities have been implemented under this objective. It is worthy to mention NCFAW’s compilation of the National Gender Mainstreaming Guidelines and Gender Mainstreaming Training Manual, which is the first set of materials o­n gender mainstreaming in Vietnam. These materials have been widely used in gender mainstreaming training courses organized by NCFAW for central and provincial level officers.


A pilot gender mainstreaming in policy formulation has been implemented in Tra Vinh province. NCFAW experts o­n gender mainstreaming havebeen working directly with the provincial leaders, representatives from provincial agencies and sectors and economic experts during the process of formulating the province’s development plan. Though this is a very initial step in realization of gender mainstreaming, encouraging signs have been seen and hopefully it will become a case to be studied and applied by other provinces in their development plans.


Nevertheless, there remains many things to do to achieve equality in Vietnam as the values and points of view in the society are still major barriers to its realization.

By Nguyen Thi Thuy