What do you think about women's equality in Việt Nam?
I think Việt Nam stands out as an example to the world as a country determined to achieve equality for all genders, but it should continue to focus on progress toward women’s equality.
Việt Nam is among countries with a high percentage of female representation (more than 27 per cent) in its legislative body, the National Assembly.
Many of the country’s major firms are now owned by women.
However, women in the country face several problems related to gender equality.
Due to a lack of access to quality education and healthcare services, women and girls in ethnic rural areas, mostly home caregivers, live in extreme poverty.
Other issues include being discouraged from school, dawn-to-dusk household chores, trafficking, and forced child marriage.
They should be aware that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, backward and in many cases illegal.
What do you think about feminism and women’s empowerment in Việt Nam?
There is a big difference between feminism and women’s empowerment. A good analogy that explains the difference is comparing ‘vision’ and ‘mission’- the mission is how you achieve the vision.
For me, the vision is feminism defined as a state where sexes are equal in every way. Women’s empowerment, or women gaining more power, is the mission by which we achieve that.
Feminism is a movement that promotes a new state of socio-economic and political being for all. It is equality of the sexes in all realms, and empowering women is the effort to make that happen.
What do you think about the role of men in ensuring women’s equality?
Men have a major role to play in ensuring women’s equality.
It is men and their cultural mores, institutions and legal constructs which obstruct our way. The more men we can engage in the movement, the faster the necessary requisite changes will occur, and the faster feminism becomes a reality.
Men must be aware that they do not have to give up. Ensuring women’s equality will increase the sum of all things that we count today.
Vietnamese men can make world history by listening to what women really want and need.
If we empower women, update laws, reconstruct our institutions, change ancient paternalistic cultures, feminism will have been achieved, and the world will be a better place for everyone.
What do you recommend to ensure women's equality?
I recommended that ‘woman to woman’ communication is the best, as many women live in fear or do not understand feminism, and they should be mentored by a feminist.
We need men who understand feminism and want to be feminists.
Women’s rights motivate me, and that motivation weaves its way through every programme we have done.
Empowering and equipping women and girls is a big part of the foundation of our work, which is to help them recognise their self-worth and gain more confidence to become game-changers in their communities.
These are the building blocks of gender equality.
Our vision is a Việt Nam where everyone shares in the economic benefits, ensuring women’s rights, gender equality, improved nutrition, environmental protection and poverty reduction.
I believe we will see solutions to the world’s problems we never dreamed of, if we put our whole brains together. — VNS
Rad Kivette, CEO of VinaCapital Foundation, visits a rural outreach clinic in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of the foundation