HA NOI — The United Nations has urged Viet Nam to equate the retirement age for men and women and to elevate women to decision-making positions, since this October the country must submit a report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Speaking at the consultation forum held this past Friday, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Minh Huan said that Viet Nam had made great progress in promoting gender equality and women's rights, as well as in correcting discriminatory practices in education and employment.
However, challenges remain due to gender inequality, the low status of women in society and violence within the family.
In addition, the early retirement age for women (55 compared with 60 for men) leads to an income gap between women and men, making it difficult for women to obtain further training and to achieve decision-making positions in Government, public institutions and the private sector, according to the UN.
Viet Nam signed CEDAW, a universal international human rights treaty, in 1980 and endorsed it in 1982. Since then, the country has reported to the CEDAW committee several times, most recently in 2005.
"Although considerable progress has been made toward implementing CEDAW, significant challenges remain," said UN Resident Co-ordinator Pratibha Mehta.
"Viet Nam has a high and rising sex ratio at birth, women continue to be paid
less than men and are concentrated in the informal economy, largely as unpaid family labourers."
Pramila Patten, a UN CEDAW Committee member, said countries must ensure that there was no direct or indirect discrimination against women in their laws and that women were protected against discrimination – committed by public authorities, the judiciary, organisations, enterprises or private individuals.
"Above all implementation requires strong political will from governments and an empowered civil society," she said. "Whilst it may be too much to expect that many female victims will come to know of CEDAW, it's not too much to hope that committed individuals will find the convention a valuable tool." — VNS