A wide gender gap, improper legal framework and lack of self-confidence create major barriers for women, especially those from ethnic minority groups, to participate in political life in Việt Nam.— Photo baokontum.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — A wide gender gap, improper legal framework and lack of self-confidence create major barriers for women, especially those from ethnic minority groups, to participate in political life in Việt Nam, Associate Professor Đỗ Thị Thạch from HCM National Academy of Politics and Public Administration (NAPA) said on Monday.
Thạch spoke at an assessment workshop of a three-year project by NAPA and the German Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Southeast Asia. He noted that women from ethnic groups in Việt Nam’s northern moutainous region made up 43.9 per cent of the labour force in the 14 northern mountain provinces, but their political representation remained low, even less than 10 per cent in some provinces.
A survey in three typical northern provinces - Hòa Bình, Lào Cai and Bắc Kạn - showed that public awareness of gender equality and women’s roles in family and society had been improved. But the survey findings also revealed major barriers facing ethnic women who want to join political organisations like People’s Councils at all levels and the National Assembly, Thạch said.
Women in ethnic groups are still burdened with family obligations, such as giving birth and raising children. They themselves don’t know about their rights in terms of political representation, or they lack self-confidence.
“Besides disadvantages in infrastructure, complicated situations in border areas or higher requirements for women leaders, women from ethnic groups face long-lasting prejudice and discrimination,” Thạch said.
"In general, Việt Nam has laws and policies to promote women’s roles, particularly in politics, but still lacked detailed mechanism to ensure strict law enforcement. For example, some provinces fail to ensure rates of female participation in political institutions, but they don’t face any sanctions," she said.
Thạch said the project provided training courses for female candidates and elected members of People’s Committees at the commune, district and provincial levels. They used flyers, game shows or play acting to help the public understand more about women’s political roles.
Hà Thị Liễu, head of Bắc Kạn Province’s Women’s Association, said that when she was introduced as a candidate to the province’s People’s Committee, she was worried. “I didn’t know how to make people trust me and vote for me,” she said.
“My question was answered as soon as I attended a training course opened by NAPA and Rosa,” Liễu said, adding that she won a position in a People’s Council and was now confident in preparing an action programme, and selecting the issues with which voters were concerned most.
NAPA vice director Nguyễn Việt Thảo said that the project had improved political participation of ethnic women and narrowed gender gaps in mountainous provinces.
The project, if continued and expanded, should target more voters who also need improved awareness about women’s political representation as they are the ones who select their representatives in political institutions, he said. — VNS