Vietnam: Gender equality needs society's attention


2-5-07, 8:59 am

Ha Noi (VNA) - Local and foreign experts have acknowledged Viet Nam's endeavours in developing a legal framework to ensure women's rights. However, they have also voiced the need to draw greater attention from society to ensure gender equality in the country.

'Viet Nam has built a strong legal framework but its biggest challenge now is how to put these laws into effect,' Froniga Greig, an United Nations gender expert, said at a recent symposium on gender equality organised by the UN Development Programme and the National Committee for the Advancement of Women.

In doing so, it is crucial to clarify the role of State agencies in charge of gender equality, Greig said.

For Ian Howie, President of the UN working group on gender and Representative of the UN Population Fund in Viet Nam, Viet Nam needs to focus on raising the public awareness on gender equality.

Howie said that the UN agencies and the Vietnamese government are working on a joint programme on gender equality for the 2007-2010 period.

One of the focuses of the joint programme is to use mass media to change behavours as well as attitudes towards gender equality right at offices, governmental agencies and at all levels of society in general, the UN official added.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, Vice President of the Viet Nam Women's Union, admitted that the country is still struggling against the age-old chauvenistic view of males outweighing females.

'Legal systems and policies cannot change people's concepts overnight,' Hoa said, adding 'awareness of people, especially women, of the rights of women, is still limited due to the weak dissemination of information regarding the issue in rural and remote areas.'

Recognising its weaknesses, Viet Nam will work to increase the education on gender equality and laws and policies concerning women, particularly in rural and remote areas, together with employing legal activities to assist women who are victims of gender discrimination, Hoa said.

She also argued that each woman should also make efforts as well as use her ability to obtain social equality.

Nguyen Thi Hoai Thu, Chairwoman of the National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs, restated that social equality and progress can only be achieved when women stand next to men in all social activities.

According to the Viet Nam Women's Union, women make up more than 50 percent of the population and the workforce. They account for 27 percent of the National Assembly deputies, which is the highest rate in Asia.

The percentage of female university graduates is 36.24 percent and the percentage of female journalists is 30 percent.

From Vietnam News Agency