Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about the celebration of International Women's Day and ways to promote gender equality between men and women. Here are some responses.
Lance Cohen, Australian, HCM City
Generally, International Women's Day in the Western World is a day used as a platform for reminiscing and trying to give recognition to women's liberation to achieve equality between the sexes.
Are you bored with the limited choices for entertainment around the city? Would the opening of a casino, a possibility which is currently under official consideration, make your day?
A Government press conference announced earlier this week that the Government is weighing the advantages and disadvantages of several casino projects proposed for Viet Nam.
The Government will seek opinions from relevant agencies on legal mechanisms for gambling before making a final decision on implementation. The Government also realises that the opening of casinos needs careful consideration in order for them to be managed and operated according to market demand. The Government's point of view is that policies must be consistent with practical rules and market demand, so as not to affect [local] habits, customs, social order and security.
What do you think about the idea? Do you have any recommendations for the Government about casino policies? How do you see the prospect of Viet Nam as a new gambling hub?
Emails should be sent to: email@example.com – or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, March 15.
In Australia the media tries to cover the history, current situation and ways of celebrating by all concerned. Sixty per cent of university graduates are women, the number of women running their own business is now approaching 900,000 and women are embarrassing male counterparts with their financial acumen and resilience.
However, in the workforce, many men feel the pendulum of being "politically correct" and gender equality has swung too far in favour of women. As a result many of these men are not interested in celebrating International Women's Day.
However in households today, the greatest contrast between Vietnamese men and men in Australia is that there is no defining role for men or women in the Australian home.
Emphasis being on team work, doing things together, trying to accommodate the individual's and particularly the family's needs. Whoever is in the best position is usually the one who performs the household duties at any given time.
Usually both work and in the case of a man/woman relationship/marriage, the woman not only is the mother, but maybe the bread winner and the higher paid of the two. Many women prefer to work part time in order to juggle work or run their own business in order to raise a family.
But it is at home where women expect and demand equality, wanting understanding, their needs to be met similarly to those of men; being able to communicate their needs without feeling humiliated or embarrassed is important to both partners.
Rosylin Loch Qld, Australian, HCM City
It is pleasing to see there is some recognition of women in our society if only for one day. In politics and business, women are making inroads.
Women in Western society are continually striving for gender equality. It is a slow process, like water dripping on a stone, but conditions and recognition for women are improving as we try to assert ourselves in an attempt to be treated as equals.
Women in Australia have made many inroads in former male dominated areas, from fighting on the front line in war to now having a female Prime Minister and Governor General. Conversely, men now accept the responsibility of household chores, shopping, raising children as part of a normal relationship.
Vietnamese women receive a rude shock when arriving here to find there are no maids, maybe the occasional cleaner once a week or fortnight and there is no extended or limited family to help out. Usually both the man and woman are working and either one sometimes seeks or prefers part time work to help in the raising of a family. Increasingly, the woman is often the breadwinner and more highly paid.
I have noticed a change occurring in Viet Nam, as slowly many women in their early 20's are not turning the other cheek as their mothers did, if they are being not being treated well and as equals, they are moving on and finding someone who will. This has come as a rude shock to many young Vietnamese men who are living in the culture of the past.
Teenage Vietnamese girls are asserting themselves more at school and in the community. Even younger ones feel empowered with worldwide knowledge through technology and better education now stand up to their brothers and challenge their parents within the family.
The days of a newly married woman moving into the Vietnamese husband's parents' home and accepting that he comes first, the children second, the parents third and the wife sharing the bottom of the ladder with the maid and being beaten are coming to an end. As are the days of Vietnamese men giving the wife a baby to keep her occupied and heading off to the nearest bar looking for a girl to continue his single life. Vietnamese women are demanding responsibility from men in the raising of the family and household matters. The days of Vietnamese men growing long thumb nails and sitting on their bum are coming to an end.
All women should be treated with respect and as equals, then a society and culture can move forward for the betterment of all concerned.
Hong Lee, Korean, Ha Nam
I am from Korea. Actually, I live in a society in which the ethical behaviour and traditional concepts used to be quite strong. Men and women used to have separate responsibilities.
Men were supposed to be the bread winner. They had to have an apartment and a good job to ensure they could support a family. Without an apartment and a stable income, it was difficult to find a good girl and register for a marriage certificate. Is that hard to believe?
However, things change so fast nowadays. In other words, with the Western lifestyle invasion, the social concepts are becoming more open. In the past, men enjoyed preferential treatment. Women used to all just stay at home as housewives.
Now the number of women staying at home doing housework is on the way down. Many young ladies now also go to good universities, even go abroad for further study. They work for good companies, such as foreign corporations, and earn even higher income than men. They are respected at work and equally contribute to the family income.
However, it is very hard to change the concepts from time immemorial. Still, the "double burden" is pressed on them.
I have lived abroad for more than 10 years. The habit and thinking is quite western; however, I am frankly looking for a traditional lady who can take care of the housework and the children.
I agree that sharing responsibilities is a factor in promoting equality amongst men and women, but how do you define the responsibilities? I think the most important factor is the reorganisation and the respect from society and from men to women.
I like the book Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus. Men and Women are different; therefore, it is impossible to say man and woman are expected to be the same in all aspects. Gender equality needs to be interpreted in a more appropriate way, not only in terms of equally sharing physical tasks.
Lawry Bee Tin Yeo, Singaporean, HCM City
It's not only on International Women's Day when we show respect and love for women. Ladies need to be fully respected as they too play an important role in the day to day activities of creating a better place to live. It must not be forgotten that they have a vital part in the propagation of human lives and they in general take care of the family better than men. Respect and equality should be rendered to the ladies as long as they are aware of their capabilities.
It is important that men share responsibilities with their ladies at home whenever they can. It may not be an indispensable factor as men have other crucial work to do like bring income to provide the necessary life lines towards a happy and healthy family. It is good for families to create gender equality and there should not be one sided activities or decision making.
My country Singapore is a developed and forward state. Women are equally well educated. Respect and gender equality is common. A very large population of women are working and contribute to the country's economy and progress. Some hold high corporate positions. Even in politics, women can be seen taking part and gaining places in parliamentary elections. — VNS