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Oct 22, 2022 / 17:44

It’s high time to have fair view on women values: UNFPA

Harmful practices including son preference and gender-biased sex selection still persist in Vietnam and more efforts are needed to end the situation toward sustainable development.

It is high time to have a fair view that women and men have their values and roles and can contribute equally to the family and society.

 Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam, speaks at the youth dialogue held in Hanoi on Oct 17. Photos: UNFPA 

The idea was shared by Naomi Kitahara, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative in Vietnam, on the occasion of Vietnamese Women’s Day [October 20] 2022.

“Everyone, regardless of gender or age, job or social position, deserves to be recognized and appreciated for their values and contributions to this life,” Kitahara said at a dialogue with about 300 students at the University of Labor – Social Affairs, Hanoi earlier this week.

The dialogue was held under the framework of the “Addressing Gender Biased Sex Selection and related harmful practices in Vietnam” project funded by the Government of Norway for 2020-2022. It aims to raise different voices to promote women’s values amid rampant son preference and gender-based sex selection.

Naomi Kitahara said it is critical to stimulate a change in everyone’s attitudes and behaviors towards gender-biased sex selection. This has become one of UNFPA’s missions in Vietnam.

 The dialogue catches a number of students.  
Common efforts 

Kitahara highlighted the role of solidarity in ending gender-based sex selection. 

For that reason, the dialogue gathered prominent figures from different sectors to provide an overview of women’s role in specific fields and society. 

The event marked the sharing of Nguyen Thi Van Anh, Director of the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA). She received the Top 50 Most Influential Women of Vietnam Award in 2017 by Forbes. She initiated the first hotline on domestic violence in Vietnam 20 years ago. 

Other speakers are Trang Nguyen, Founder and Director of WildAct Vietnam, which works to end illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam and internationally. She was awarded Princess of Girona Foundation; Do Thi Anh Nguyet, 19, an archer who attended Olympic Tokyo 2020, won a gold medal at SEA Games 30 in the Philippines in 2019; Le Thi Minh Hang, a fencing player who won silver gold at SEA Games 30 and referee of U17, U20, U23 tournaments.      

Last but not least is Phan Thi My Hanh, Lecturer at Vietnam National University – Hanoi, lecturer at training courses in 26 countries on criminal investigations and peacekeeping. She’s the first Vietnamese woman selected among peers from 142 countries to engage in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions. She participates in building the Law on Drug and agreements on crime prevention between Vietnam and other countries. 

 Nguyen Thi Ha, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, addresses gender inequality issues. 

Ideas shared by participants at the event once again showed the need to change mindset and attitude towards the role of girls and women, making efforts to end gender inequality in Vietnam in the context that Vietnam is striving to achieve the philosophy of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030.

From the perspective of a Vietnamese official, Nguyen Thi Ha, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), said gender equality is a cross-cutting issue in all the guidelines of the Party and the State of Vietnam. It’s also part of the important tasks in the country’s socio-economic development strategy, which aims at building Vietnam as a prosperous, democratic, fair and civilized country, thus ensuring national security and sustainable development.

 Hilde Solbakken, Ambassador of Norway in Vietnam, delivers a speech at the event. 

Hilde Solbakken, Ambassador of Norway in Vietnam, said every country has its own measures to change the landscape with changes from young people, and Vietnam is not an exception. But the main point is that gender equality must be addressed by individuals first to make the issue popular in society.

She emphasized the importance of empowerment to girls and women, saying that they can do their good jobs once they are trusted and empowered. With funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the project has earned significant results to contribute to policy-making in Vietnam.

Gender equality in Vietnam has improved over the past decades. However, gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, and harmful practices including son preference and gender-biased sex selection still persist in the country. Vietnam’s “sex ratio at birth (SRB)” is currently estimated at 111.5 male births for 100 female births.

Hanoi has addressed gender equality as part of its socio-economic development in the 2021-2030 period. Specifically, the city earlier this month approved an amount of VND10 billion (US$434,000) to solve issues related to gender inequality among ethnic minorities in the next eight years. 

Beneficiaries include women and girls in ethnic minorities and mountainous communes, with priority given to those in poor and near-poor households, victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, unsafe labor migration or returning from foreign husbands, and people with disabilities.

The project aims to increase awareness, combat discrimination, and care for one’s physical and spiritual well-being while safeguarding and looking after women and children.

In addition, the city has checked the implementation of welfare at firms employing female workers.