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May 14, 2022 / 18:43

EU-funded program promotes women’s economic empowerment in Vietnam

Companies that practice gender equality and women empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community are believed to gain advantage in competitiveness and sustainable development.

Women’s economic empowerment in Vietnam has been promoted through a program funded by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) for the 2019-2022 period.

 Le Thanh, Program Manager of the European Union Delegation, speaks at the conference WeEmpowerAsia Journey held in Hanoi on May 10. Photos: UN WOMEN

More than 1,500 enterprises in Vietnam have been equipped to improve awareness of women’s empowerment principles in the workplace, marketplace, and community in the past three years in a program funded by the European Union (EU) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

Approximately 3,300 women-owned enterprises strengthened their capacity to adapt to Covid-19 and the new normal, 136 businesses are signatories of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

The program helped build web-based gender responsive enterprises assessment tool for SMEs, at the same time provided dozens of e-learning courses on business management and leadership skills for more than 7,700 female learners. 

In addition, the program “Promoting Economic Empowerment of Women at Work in Asia” (WeEmpowerAsia) supported gender mainstreaming in some laws, advocated policies on gender equality in businesses, and equipped the young generation with gender equality knowledge over the past three years.

The EUR8-million (US$8.4 million) program for Asia in which Vietnam is among seven beneficiary countries helps replicate initiatives on women’s economic empowerment, to promote equal employment, income and a decent working environment for sustainable businesses and society.

“It would be important to ensure that women equally contribute to and benefit from the dual Green-Digital Transition process of Vietnam, in the post-pandemic context,” Le Thanh, Program Manager of the European Union Delegation, said at a conference held in Hanoi on May 10 to review the implementation of the program.  

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Representative of UN Women Vietnam, highlighted: “While the achievements of the WeEmpowerAsia program are promising, it is important to keep in mind that moving from commitment to action requires political commitment and intentional efforts from all stakeholders to enable women to fully engage, participate and benefit from the gender-inclusive businesses and working environments on equal grounds.”

 Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Representative of UN Women Vietnam, delivers a speech at the event.

Strong influence

WeEmpowerAsia in Vietnam is a collaborative effort between the EU and UN Women in partnership with Vietnam Women Entrepreneur Council, Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI); the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI); the Ministry of Labor, Invalid and Social Affairs (MoLISA); and the Vietnam Women’s Union. 

The three-year program in Vietnam has resulted in three outcomes, including an enabling business environment for women’s economic empowerment; enhanced capacity of women-owned enterprises; and gender-sensitive practices and culture in the private sector.

“We support this project for Asian countries to promote gender equality in the economic sector and promote the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said Jesús Laviña, Counsellor and Deputy Head of the Cooperation Section, Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam.

The program has advocated policies on gender equality in businesses. In detail, it supported the MPI in building the national project “Enhancement of Competitiveness for Women-owned SMEs in 2021-2025”, providing more preferential policies for women-owned SMEs on HR development, on business consultation.  

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council, VCCI 

“The project has promoted gender equality in businesses and enhanced capacity of women-owned businesses in digital transformation and integration context,” The Hanoi Times cited Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council, VCCI. She added that the WEPs Awards inspire businesses to create equal opportunities for men and women to contribute to and benefit from their work, leaving no one behind. 

In another move, the program assesses Covid-19’s impact on businesses and recovery post-Covid-19 for women’s economic empowerment.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic had a bad impact on businesses’ growth and operations. However, the financial report of enterprises listed on HOSE showed 0% of leading enterprises that have women on the management board had stable business outcomes, according to Nguyen Thi Viet Ha, Acting Chairwoman, Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE).

Meanwhile, Than Duc Viet, General Director of Garment 10 JSC, said: “When we give workers equal opportunities of creativeness, study, development and working, the business results are very high.”

Sharing the same idea, Deputy General Director of DOJI Group Do Vu Phuong Anh, said that “When we have a good working environment and policies, especially for female employees, we can demonstrate gender equality, business culture, and a healthy environment, which is the best message to position our brand and reputation in the market.”

“Companies that practice gender equality and women empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community gain advancement in competitiveness and sustainable development because gender equality means better business results and a smart economy,” Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Representative of UN Women Vietnam, shared with The Hanoi Times

The program also equipped the young generation with gender equality knowledge. WeEmpowerAsia has had a huge impact on women’s economic empowerment as they gained knowledge and skills on women entrepreneurship and management through e-learning courses, international conferences, and the textbook “Gender in Economics and Management,” according to Dr. Duong Kim Anh, Vice President of Vietnam Women’s Academy. 

The conference WeEmpowerAsia Journey held in Hanoi on May 10

WeEmpowerAsia is a joint program by the European Union and UN Women aimed at increasing the number of women who lead and participate in private-sector businesses in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, thereby advancing inclusive and sustainable growth along with stronger links between European and Asian markets through gender-sensitive trade and supply chains. 

When guaranteed equal opportunity, choice and access to resources, women’s full participation will multiply the capacity of the whole of society. Closing gender gaps in work and society would add up to $4.5 trillion to the region by 2025. This data estimation is a strong indicator of the business case for women’s economic empowerment: a higher level of women’s economic participation means higher economic growth. 

Recognizing the potential of women as a catalytic force for further socio-economic development, the WeEmpowerAsia program works to advance women’s equality and gender-equal business opportunities in target countries.