Gender equality forum in Ha Noi

09:09 08/11/2016
Hanoi-Experts yesterday met and discussed how to promote gender equality, provide economic opportunities and empower women at a forum in Hanoi.
Students act out a short play about combating social discrimination on gender equality at the forum. — VNS Photo Thu Trang

The forum, “Her Challenges, Her Opportunities”, was organized by the Kenan Institute Asia and 23 other civil society organizations and government agencies that work with women. The forum is part of the Vietnam Women Improving Lives and Leadership (Vietnam WILL) Project, which started in October 2014 and will run till March 2017 in Hanoi and the northern province of Hoa Binh. The project is funded by the US Department of State.

The forum was attended by around 100 Vietnamese and international participants from the public sector, private sector, embassies, international organizations, United Nations agencies, and 23 social organizations and government agencies in Hanoi and Hoa Binh Province. Experts discussed issues related to the health, education, disability and economic opportunities of women and girls.

Ha Đinh Bon, Director of Legal Department under Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that though the Government of Vietnam was making numerous efforts to promote gender equality and empower women, a lot of challenges were coming up during the implementation process.

Currently, gender equality and women’s rights are not perceived as important issues by a large section of the population, Bốn and other experts at the forum agreed. As a result, women continue to face violence and the mindset that favours males remains deeply rooted in the community.

The gender gap in income too has not improved significantly in many rural and remote areas where women are bound by practices that don’t favour gender equality.

“We have to keep improving our policy system, fostering social communication, raising awareness of all classes and mobilizing civil resources to promote women’s development,” Bon said.

Experts proposed that to improve the implementation of gender equality laws, ministries, sectors and localities had to formulate and execute legal documents, strategies and plans. Another important measure was to reinforce training and communication for gender equality awareness among the staff and civil servants in charge of policy formulation and execution.

At the forum, Phan Kieu Anh, country programme manager of Kenan in Vietnam, said, “Women can not only speak on behalf of marginalized groups, such as minorities and people with disabilities, but also play an important role in advocating change.”

The US Department of State, through its grant for the Vietnam WILL project, was helping empower women so they have a greater say in Vietnam’s decision-making process, she said.

Ted Osius, ambassador of the US Embassy, said, “Kenan and the project’s efforts to advance gender equality, tackle domestic violence and combat discrimination will make Vietnam a stronger and more prosperous country.”

Over the past two years, the Vietnam WILL Project has enabled the leaders and staff of 23 civil society organizations and government agencies to campaign on behalf of women, as a means to prevent conflict between the needs of women and the state, and involve women in conflict prevention through the development of civil society.

Representatives share their opinions on gender equality and social barriers to women at the forum. — VNS Photo Thu Trang