Wishing Vietnamese women to enjoy living in a fair, equal and better world: UN Women Representative

WVR - On the occasion of International Women's Day, Ms. Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN Women Representative in Vietnam, highlighted Vietnam's progress and efforts in promoting gender equality and made recommendations a more inclusive and equitable digital evolution.
Wishing Vietnamese women to enjoy living in a fair, equal and better world
Ms. Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN Women Representative in Vietnam. (Source: UN Women)

Could you please assess Vietnam’s progress and efforts in ensuring the rights of women in recent years?

The Government of Vietnam has made significant progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG5 on Gender Equality. I will name 3 key areas:

The first one it the solid legal framework conducive of gender equality. For instance, there is the Gender Equality Law, Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, the National Strategy for Gender Equality (2021-2030).

The second one is women’s political participation. In the 2021 election, the proportion of female deputies in the National Assembly increased to 30% - the highest since 1976.

The third one is women’s labour force participation. It is almost as high as men’s (72 per cent for women compared to 82 for men).

However, despite these achievements, there are still some areas of concern.

First of all, there is a gender pay gap of 13%, and there is a concentration of women in low-paid and low-skill jobs in the informal sector.

The prevalence of violence against women and girls remains high (with 63% of ever-married women having experienced one form of violence by their husbands).

Certain groups of women are left behind and need specific attention, such as ethnic minority women and girls, women living with disabilities, women living with HIV, women living in rural areas or areas affected by natural disaster or climate change and women migrant workers.

This year, the International Women’s Day theme is “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality”. How do you evaluate the efforts of the Vietnamese government in general and in coordination with international organizations in particular to improve the access of women and girls to digital technology?

In Vietnam, innovation and technology is high on the government’s list of priorities. In recent years, Viet Nam has made many policy efforts to improve the access of citizens, including women and girls to digital technology.

The “National Program on Digital Transformation until 2025, with a vision toward 2030” approved by the Prime Minister on June 3, 2020 (Decision No. 749/QD-TTg), innovation and technology has become a priority of the Government as well as ministries and sectors in recent years. Digital transformation has spread deep and broad impacts, covering all sectors and socio-economic fields, contributing to elevating labour productivity, transforming operational and business models towards innovation, thereby fostering the competitiveness of the country.

Apart from that, innovation and technology have been still often seen as male-dominated areas. In recent years, women have been gradually building up certain advantages in technology, with expanded job opportunities. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), in Vietnam, women account for about 37% of the workforce in the technological sector in Vietnam, higher than that of the world (25%).

Gender diversity is also a factor of concern by technology companies in Vietnam to enable them to generate good, safe and suitable products for the majority of users. However, the majority of women working in the technological sector still primarily assume such positions as testing, marketing, sales, administration and human resources, rather than technical roles such as software developer.

In fact, there are still cultural and social beliefs that influence the role of women in the technology sector. Therefore, how to break down barriers and empower women in a comprehensive way is also a challenge for many businesses operating in the technology field in Vietnam today.

Wishing Vietnamese women to enjoy living in a fair, equal and better world
The policy dialogue on the topic 'Gender equality in digital transformation in Vietnam: opportunities and challenges' on March 3. (Source: UN Women)

What are you recommendations to improve women status in technology and innovation?

This year’s International Women's Day priority theme provides a unique opportunity to revisit the gendered impacts of innovation and technology and to identify recommendations that will allow for a more inclusive and equitable digital evolution in Viet Nam. Against this background, UN Women would offer some thoughts for further discussions:

Firstly, it is crucial to ensure gender perspectives in national digital policies, and their potential amendments, with time-bound, gender-specific indicators and targets, and allocate resources to enable full implementation.

Secondly, the government and all actors need to further strengthen and promote quality education for women and girls throughout their lives, not least in science, technology, engineering and math.

Thirdly, to minimize the adverse, gendered impacts of digitalization, it is necessary to forecast and anticipate future job and skill needs.

Fourthly, to inform gender-responsive policies, the government needs to strengthen data collection to better understand the full dimensions of gender and innovation and technology, and to address gender-based violence online. The issue of gender-based violence online should also be included in relevant legislation.

What programs are UN Women currently implementing to promote gender equality in Vietnam in general and to realize the theme "Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality" this year?

UN Women supports the Government in fulfilling its commitments to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, advance women's rights, and promote equality between women and men, boys and girls and other genders.

UN Women provides technical advice and supports the Government in implementing policies and programs that promote women's leadership and participation in decision-making at all levels, in peace and security agenda; effectively prevents and responds to gender-based violence in the family and public places; enhances women's economic rights through access to social services, resources and decent work opportunities; and advises on appropriate planning and resource allocation for the promotion of gender equality at the national level.

Apart from that, UN Women also carries out communication campaigns and activities to tackle gender stereotypes so that all women, men, boys, girls and other genders can reach their full potential.

Regarding activities on “Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality, UN Women in collaboration with MOLISA to organize a Policy Dialogue on the occasion of the International Women's Day to discuss current situations related to gender equality in digital transformation in Vietnam, thereby jointly identifying solutions and proposing policies to improve/strengthen this issue. The UN in Vietnam, technically led by UN Women and UN RCO is developing a policy brief with in-depth situations analysis and recommend concrete solutions.

Furthermore, UN Women is supporting the government of Vietnam to revise the Law on Gender Equality towards perfecting institutions and policies to promote gender equality in the digital transformation process.

On the special day of women around the world, is there anything you would like to say to the Vietnamese women?

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2023, I would like to extend our best wishes to all women in Vietnam and look forward to more progress on gender equality as part of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals so that all women, daughters and girls in Vietnam can enjoy living in a fair, equal and better offline and online world!

Thank you!

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