Vietnamese female peacekeepers embark on their journey to South Sudan on a peacekeeping mission. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Although women face a number of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, their roles in the family and community has never faded, an international conference in Hà Nội heard on Friday.
The conference was co-hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Việt Nam (DAV) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung foundation of Germany on enhancing the roles of women in peace and security.
Dr Luận Thùy Dương, DAV’s senior advisor and former Vietnamese Ambassador to Myanmar, said the roles of women had changed from housekeeping to peacekeeping. Women are involved more around the negotiating tables and in peace agreements and peace keeping.
“If we don’t have women in the peace agreements, the peace can not be durable because women keep the temper of the conflicts,” she said.
“We are proud to say that the number of Vietnamese women in the international UN peacekeeping force has increased year by year. Their roles in the UN peacekeeping are increasing as well,” she said.
Citing a number of ongoing conflicts in the world including a so-called scientific conflict in terms of the struggle against COVID-19, Dr Dương said women were the victims of all kinds of conflicts. When women are on the backside of the conflicts, they are even more seriously impacted, especially with invisible effects. Unpaid employment for women is an example where many businesses have reduced female employees and cut down on salary.
One of the biggest challenges of women in the post-COVID-19 period is they have to catch up with knowledge on science, technology and health. They should “believe in their power, strength and adapt to the new normal life,” she said.
Dr Lưu Thúy Hồng, vice dean of the Faculty of International Affairs, Academy of Journalism and Communication, said COVID-19 had limited women’s roles in different aspects. Women are worried about being infected when they go out, limiting their opportunities to take part in community activities outside.
During the pandemic, women also suffer from stress due to bearing more burden of taking care of families, especially when schools were closed. According to a report of Business Insider, 43 per cent of interviewed women said they had spent four more hours taking care of their children in the social distancing period while the figure among men was only 26 per cent.
Emerging data on violence against women and girls during COVID-19 was also reported. In France, for example, reports of domestic violence increased by 30 per cent since the lockdown on March 17. In Argentina, emergency calls for domestic violence cases increased by 25 per cent since the lockdown on March 20. Increased cases of domestic violence and demand for emergency shelter were also reported in Canada, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US, Hồng said.
In spite of challenges, women still actively and effectively take part in the peace and security process as well as pandemic recovery activities. Groups of Vietnamese women, for example, made face masks to donate to local people in different areas in Việt Nam and Vietnamese community overseas. During the pandemic, female peacekeepers of Việt Nam still took part in missions in South Sudan, Hồng said.
Associate Professor Nguyễn Phương Bình, DAV’s senior advisor and Vietnamese representative at the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry, said as there are a large number of women working in education and healthcare, there are a lot of opportunities for women to play a greater role in those fields. Women can become the people who educate their children and encourage family members to protect the environment.
Besides challenges, women now get access to more knowledge and have more opportunities to participate in peace and security activities so they are holding a bigger role in making policies, she said. — VNS