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Enforcement of gender equality law should be enhanced: experts

Vietnam has won international acclaim for its efforts to enhance gender quality, experts have said.

Gender equality has improved in Vietnam, but there's still a long way to go. — Photo

After 10 years of implementing the Law on Gender Equality from 2007 to 2019, several development indicators have improved, experts said in a meeting to review the law held by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Hanoi on Thursday.

In 2006, Vietnam promulgated the Law on Gender Equality, requiring Government agencies and People’s Committees at all levels to perform State management responsibilities in gender equality.

“Since the law was issued and took effect, the system of policies and laws on gender equality has been continuously supplemented and completed, contributing to forming a solid legal corridor on gender equality,” MoLISA deputy minister Nguyen Thi Ha told the meeting.

“After 10 years of implementing the law, several proud achievements in the issue were highly appreciated and recognised by the international community,” said Ha.

For example, the percentage of female deputies of the current National Assembly reached 26.8 per cent, higher than the average rate of 19 per cent in Asian countries and 25 per cent globally.

The ratio of male and female students at all educational levels is equal, while the gender structure of the labour force is relatively balanced, with 52.7 per cent of the workforce male and 47.3 per cent female.

The maternal death rate has decreased from 69 cases per 100,000 live births in 2009 to 46 cases per 100,000 live births in 2019.

Meanwhile, Naomi Kitahara, the UNFPA's representative in Vietnam, said that in the 10 years of implementing the Law on Gender Equality, Vietnam has become one of the nations in Asia-Pacific recording progress on gender equality.

"We have seen remarkable achievements in promoting women's rights and leadership, especially in the health and education sectors through strengthening the legal and institutional framework," said Kitahara.

Remaining difficulties

Despite the progress, gender equality in Vietnam has been facing difficulties and challenges.

Both men and women suffer the effects of gender inequality, but women and girls are still more vulnerable groups.

Though they account for nearly half of the national workforce, due to a lack of skills and training, the quality of work of female workers remains unstable and unsustainable.

The majority of the labour force work in fields that require a low level of expertise or jobs with low sustainability and stability, while the average monthly income of female employees is about 80 per cent of male workers.

The five-year difference in retirement age shortens the time to participate in training, which limits opportunities for women to be promoted to leadership positions.

Meanwhile, there are big gaps in incomes and opportunities to approach basic services and cultural events among women in different occupation and regions, especially of ethnic minority women, women with disabilities, and poor women.

Further law enforcement

The challenges require specific policies and actions to be developed to uphold achievements as well as overcome existing shortcomings and new issues, experts said.

Vietnam pledged to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on gender equality and women empowerment, said Ha.

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful and prosperous Vietnamese society, she added, noting that without addressing gender equality, Vietnam cannot achieve the SDGs by 2030.

In the meeting, the MoLISA and UNFPA appealed for further efforts from ministries, Government agencies, economic sectors and UN agencies to accelerate progress towards sustainable development by 2030, so that no one will be left behind.

The report on an independent review of implementing the Law on Gender Equality was completed with objective and assessments and comments in the context that the law should be reviewed and revised, said the deputy minister.

Discussing priorities in 2021-2026 for revising the law, Nguyen Duc Lam, an expert on gender, said it is necessary to recognise and regulate indirect discrimination, identify prohibited behaviours and clarify sanctions.

In addition, harmful behaviours leading to gender inequality such as preferring sons to daughters, fetal sex selection due to gender prejudice, sexual harassment, child marriage or forced marriage must be clearly identified, said Lam.

It is necessary to increase monetary penalties for violations of gender equality and consider the regulation of harmful acts as a criminal offence, he said.

Other experts at the meeting suggested adding clear and stronger principles on gender equality in the Law on Organisation of the National Assembly and Law on Organisation of Local Governments to ensure the effective performance of gender equality of elected bodies.

It is necessary to amend the Law on the Promulgation of Legal Documents to unify the Law on Gender Equality, ensuring gender equality is mentioned in all laws and ordinances.

For the long term, there is a need to establish a ministerial agency on gender equality to ensure gender equality is an important part of political goals and financial resources, said experts.  VNS

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