Viet Nam targets gender equality

Update: April, 01/2014 - 08:57
A woman in Ha Noi's Dong Anh District polishes wooden furniture. Provision for social protection for women and girls is needed to help improve access to social services and employment. —VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Na

HA NOI (VNS) — Viet Nam has to improve provision of social protection for women and girls because current policies are not inclusive enough, officials and experts said at a policy dialogue held in the capital city yesterday.

The dialogue, which focused on four principal policy groups of social protection – ensuring minimum income and employment, increasing social insurance, social assistance and access to basic social services – found males have ended up getting disproportionately higher benefits over many years.

A report tabled at the meeting said gender integration has not been incorporated in policies despite several regulations according priority for disadvantaged women.

It said services provided by employment and job training centres as well as businesses were "not gender responsive".

It also found that regulations on access to credit imposed unsuitable terms and conditions on women.

Women are receiving less mandatory social insurance and were particularly adversely affected by lax implementation of regulations punishing social insurance violations by employers.

Women also suffered disproportionately in accessing basic social services, the study found. It noted, for instance, that children of female migrants had very limited access.

The distribution of basic social services did not sufficiently cover women's and girls' needs, especially in areas with large ethnic minority populations or female migrants, the study found.

Experts agreed that the ongoing recession has created challenges to the provision of social protection for women and girls.

Between 2002 and 2012, women made up a lower part of the nation's labour force, but were more likely to enter or re-enter the labour market during periods of crises in order to reduce economic difficulties for households, the report said.

It noted that the rate of female manual workers without training was 86.3 per cent in 2012 compared with 82.6 per cent for males. In labour exports, women accounted for just one third of the total, the study found.

It also found that unemployment among women was greater at 57 per cent of the total number of unemployed people in the country.

Female workers hold unstable and more vulnerable jobs than their male counterparts, particularly in rural areas and the agriculture sector.

The report also said that female migrants encountered numerous difficulties in accessing reproductive healthcare information and services, including family planning services.

The contraception needs of 35.4 per cent and 34.6 per cent of the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups, respectively, are not being met, it said.

Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, director of the labour ministry's Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs, suggested that the Government introduces a system to monitor and assess implementation and achievement of gender equality objectives outlined in Resolution 15 on social security.

She said technical documents were needed to make this assessment at all administrative levels.

The network of employment and job training centres should be expanded to areas with a large number of disadvantaged women, she added.

Regulations on compulsory social insurance should be revised to improve women's participation; for instance, making workers with monthly labour contracts entitled to compulsory social insurance, said Huong.

The Ministry of Education and Training should study minimum education curricula for ethnic minority children as well as those residing in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, she said.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcukai, United Nations Deputy General Secretary and Executive Director of UN Women, noted that "about 5.1 billion people, or 75 per cent of the world population, are currently not covered by adequate social protection.

"As we battle this deprivation, social protection is one of the most proven and effective tools at our disposal," she said.

The policy dialogue was jointly organised by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and UN Women Viet Nam.

It attracted nearly 150 participants, including representatives from state administrative agencies, policy makers, research agencies, socio-political organisations, non-governmental organisations, gender and social protection experts.— VNS