UN missive calls for gender equality

UNAIDS Viet Nam representative, Eamonn Murphy has delivered a special message for men for International Women’s Day that falls today.

Women needed empowerment throughout the year – not just the cards and flowers of their o­ne day of the year – he told a Viet Nam Women’s Union-sponsored international conference in Ha Noi.

"We must work together both to empower women and to sensitise men, to make a difference in addressing gender inequality", he said.

The conference, to strengthen international co-operation in the promotion of gender equality and development, was attended by representatives from about 50 international organisations and embassies.

All expressed their best wishes to women for their day and pledged further co-operation with the Viet Nam Women’s Union.

VWU deputy chairwoman Dang Ngoc Thinh said most rural women remained ill educated and many migrated to urban Viet Nam because of their poor living conditions.

Some were victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.

New law tackles abuse issue

Implementation of Viet Nam’s new law to prevent and control domestic violence is critical to ensuring women’s rights and well-being are further protected, says United Nations Population Fund representative Ian Howie.
The new law approved by the National Assembly last November applies from July.
"The promulgation of the law is a great achievement and the leadership of the Vietnamese Government in taking this initiative is exemplary," the UNFPA representative says in a statement issued in Ha Noi.
"Physical, psychological, and sexual abuse are a reality for far too many Vietnamese women who are victims of family violence, and the United Nations is committed to working with the Government to ensure the recently-passed domestic violence prevention law is implemented effectively, he says.
The statement issued for International Women’s Day says Viet Nam is o­ne of o­nly 89 countries in the world to have passed domestic violence legislation. — VNS

The deputy chairwoman said that Viet Nam had policies intended to ensure equality for women. But there were still barriers to their development and their rights to equality with men. The VWU’s plans to 2012 included:

Laws to guarantee the education of women and protection of their dignity;

Encouraging women to lead and then manage, mobilise, build and monitor how the laws for gender equality are applied;

Supporting the development and international economic integration of women; and

Providing support with reproductive healthcare and family affairs.

The deputy chairwoman sought further domestic and international support for the VWU plan.

International Organisation of Migrants, Viet Nam, representative Andrew Bruce said his organisation supported women, especially migrants, through several activities.

The organisation worked with the VWU to help victims of human trafficking after they were returned to their homes.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representative Jonathan Miller said traditional discrimination continued to threaten the development of Viet Nam’s women, despite the country’s achievements in improving conditions for women and children.

UNICEF would continue to support Viet Nam and gender would be mainstreamed in all the agency’s projects, he said.

Women’s sanctuary

The Viet Nam Women’s Union celebrated the first anniversary of the founding of its Women and Development centre in Ha Noi.

The centre has become a sanctuary where women and children – victims of domestic violence and human trafficking – can stay while they acquire skills before their reintegration with the community.

The VWU, together with the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also honoured 36 successful businesswomen with a Golden Rose Cup.

The latest World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Britain’s International Development Department and Canadian International Development Agency reports list Viet Nam as among the world’s most progressive sponsors of gender equality.

The reports identify Viet Nam as having made the greatest progress in the promotion of equality in political representation; the number of women in the workforce and the balance in life expectancy in East Asia during the past 20 years.

The number of female parliamentarians is the highest of the Asia-Pacific region, as is the number of women in the workforce.

About 83 per cent of women aged between 15 to 60 were employed in 2002.

Average life expectancy for women is 73 and for men 69.

The figures help put Viet Nam at 109 of 177 countries o­n the UNDP’s Human Development Index.

The UNDP had Viet Nam at 80 of 136 countries o­n its gender development index in 2006, significantly higher than other countries of similar economic development.

* Openning remark by VWU President
* Some strategic plans of Vietnam Women’s Union 2007-2012
* Remark by UNAIDS representative
UNICEF remarks at the meeting with international organisations