From policy to reality: gender equality in Việt Nam

March 11, 2022 - 07:20
Caring for and protecting the rights of women, both in family and society, has been the consistent policy of the Vietnamese Party and State since the birth of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam in 1945, now the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam.


Vietnamese female officers join UN peacekeeping operations. — Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations

HÀ NỘI — Caring for and protecting the rights of women, both in family and society, has been the consistent policy of the Vietnamese Party and State since the birth of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam in 1945, now the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam.

Tireless efforts to ensure and promote gender equality have brought tremendous results.

From policy to reality

The policies on gender equality rolled out in Việt Nam have evolved over time.

After President Hồ Chí Minh read the Declaration of Independence declaring the birth of the Democratic Republic of Việt Nam on September 2, 1945, the 1946 Constitution, the first in Việt Nam, prescribed gender equality. Article 9 of the Constitution said women and men enjoy equal rights. 

The 1959 Constitution also stipulated rights and obligations of women in Article 24, Chapter 3, which emphasised equal rights of women and men in politics, economy, culture, social affairs and family.

Along with integrating women’s rights into the basic rights of citizens, the 1980 Constitution had exclusive regulations on the rights of women.

According to Article 57, citizens above 21 years old, regardless of their gender, can be elected to the National Assembly, on all-level People’s Councils, and the highest organs of State power at central and local levels.

Article 63 said the State and society were responsible for improving women’s political, cultural, scientific and technological knowledge and promoting their careers, helping them raise their position in society.

On labour policies, men and women in the same employment should receive equal pay, and women can take maternity leave before and after childbirth with full payment.

The 1992 Constitution, amended and supplemented in 2001, maintained these regulations.

To solidify provisions in the Constitution, Việt Nam issued the Law on Gender Equality in 2006, with women’s rights comprehensively prescribed.

Other laws and legal documents have also materialised from the Constitution’s provisions, notably the Law on Social Insurance (in 2006 and 2014), the 2006 Law on Residence, the 2007 Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, and the Law on Marriage and Family (in 2000 and 2014).

The 2013 Constitution has detailed regulations on women’s rights, with articles 14 to 49 of Chapter 2 stipulating human rights, including for women.

The legal regulations emphasise equal and priority rights for women, such as employment rights, retirement, and helping women improve their capacity and avoid risks at the workplace, in the family and in society.

Numbers speak

The 15th National Assembly of Việt Nam was elected on May 23, 2021, with 499 deputies, including 151 females or 30.26 per cent of the total. This is the second time that female NA deputies have exceeded 30 per cent. The first time was recorded in the fifth legislature with 32.31 per cent.

During the first tenure, female deputies made up only 3 per cent. However, they performed their tasks outstandingly.

The 14th tenure went down in the 75-year history of the legislature as the first time a woman was sworn in as chair of the NA - Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân - while another woman assumed the post of vice chair – Tòng Thị Phóng.

The number of female NA deputies holding leadership positions during the present tenure now accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the total.

Meanwhile, female representatives at People’s Councils at the provincial level make up 26.5 per cent, up 1.37 per cent from the previous term; and at the district level, 27,9 per cent, a rise of 3.2 per cent as compared with the previous tenure.

At the 13th National Party Congress, among the members of the Party Central Committee officially elected, 18 were female. Meanwhile, out of 63 secretaries of municipal and provincial Party Committees for 2020-2025, nine are female, the highest number so far.

The international community has acknowledged Việt Nam’s efforts in gender equality.

The country ranks 51st globally, fourth in Asia and first in the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in female NA deputies.

Its gender equality index is also constantly rising as Việt Nam was 87th position out of 153 countries surveyed for the narrowing of the gender gap.

Việt Nam has a more significant percentage of women in senior leadership positions than the global average, according to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report.

In Việt Nam’s mid-market companies, women hold 33 per cent of senior leadership positions, with the most common being personnel director (36 per cent) and chief financial officer (32 per cent). Globally the rate is 29 per cent.

Ninety-five per cent of businesses in Việt Nam have at least one woman in senior management, again above the global rate of 87 per cent. — VNS