Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about the growing gender inequality in Viet Nam after the latest sex ratio climbed to 114 boys to 100 girls.
Here are some of their comments.
Nguyen Thi Chuc, Bac Ninh
Naturally, giving birth to a boy or a girl was not a human choice but today, due to high-tech development in science, particularly in medical care, interference into human fertility has helped parents to give birth to healthy children, even choose their gender. In my own opinion, it has particularly impacted on the gender gap. Giving financial reward to families that only have daughters actually cannot help solve the problem, instead it more or less promotes gender discrimination. Why? I believe finance is not a problem if those families still want more babies, either girls or boys. In particular, for families which have a fierce and strong target that they want a boy, financial rewards to stop giving birth to a boy is never a concern. For those families who have girls and feel happy with their children despite they are girls or boys, also never care about the financial award. The support may just be an encouragement for them in certain days and what they want to do, they still do it without care for the reward. It would, in another way, help to add more oil in fire for fighting with gender discrimination because in some cases, people will have questions about why we give financial support to families with only daughters.
Families with daughters never want that, they want equality, not just a little money. Meanwhile, families with sons will question whether this is a kind of gender inequality.
Kees van den Berk, Holland
This is a difficult topic to judge when one is not raised in a society fed by Confucianism for centuries. Then again economic growth such as Viet Nam has seen over the past years normally contributes to narrowing the gender gap. Viet Nam is unfortunately an exception to this rule. Where aspects of modern life such as a car, smart phone, traveling by air are so easily accepted (by men), modern values related to gender still have a long way to go. Can this preference not be tackled by simply showing "consideration" for your wife or daughter-in-law.
Women who are getting pregnant against doctors advice may be risking their life and their baby's life. A husband's right to divorce or see other women to get a baby boy, too often is encouraged by parents-in-law. Men can express their disappointment when a baby girl is born. Over 1.2 million abortions per year and an average of 2.5 abortions in a Vietnamese woman's life time are shocking numbers. Are husband's and parents-in-law seriously not aware of the physical and mental pain and suffering caused here? Were mothers-in-law not daughters-in-law once? Is it all forgotten once it relates to one's own son? A boy at all cost? Many families are facing difficulty to make ends meet. Still there are families having another child after one, two or more girls. These families could create their own reward by not having another baby. It shows the pressure from "society" is stronger than any financial benefit. In Confucianism, women are supposed to be born to serve men in life. May we conclude that the preference for boys is its own worst enemy?
Mathew Neil Forrest, Australian, Ha Noi
It took a lot of work and time in countries such as England and Australia to promote gender equality. Many women were hurt and even killed. But times changed. Small battles were won… Step by step until some extent of equality was found. But even now it is not equal and they have to fight to keep what they gained like all movements.
It was unheard of that women could make important choices, or even trivial ones. It was an urgent issue for many to ‘keep them in the house'. ‘How on earth can a man conduct the business of the world without a woman in the home?' said an important figure of the time.
Sometimes it was casual prejudice, sometimes violent. But men were allowed, in general, far more leeway than women even in matters of illegal activities, much like Viet Nam today.
It took such perseverance and strength to come through to the other side. Strangely, World War 2 did help in this issue when women at that time took on a lot and proved themselves worthy. Vietnamese women did the same in war but were not able to translate that into peacetime. So the only question is: Can the women of Viet Nam forge a new identity for themselves? There is a lot against them, but I truly hope they can.
Unfortunately I wouldn't expect a leg up from local men anytime soon. There would have to be human and civil rights improvements to help shift mindsets. Once the ball is rolling it will get easier.
James Joseph Kendall, American, Ha Noi
Yeah, all women and men had to and continue to fight for their rights. Men and women are and have been discriminated against. I think people in Viet Nam want a boy in the family to keep the family name alive. Most western folks just want a healthy child, regardless if they are male or female. We all want a good future for out children.
An, Ha Noi
I think this proposal doesn't help too much. It depends on our awareness. When the government put a ban of having more children and punished it like they used to before, we would all be afraid to do it. But maybe it will affect more the remote areas where people haven't had sense about childbirth and their kids' future. — VNS