21 Mar 2016
Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director in Viet Nam
The campaign argues that what people in Viet Nam consider ‘normal’ gender roles are actually abnormal. UNDP Viet Nam Photo
Women zip through the streets, carrying kids and groceries on their motorbikes. It’s a common rush-hour scene on the streets of Viet Nam, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Existing stereotypes in Viet Nam confine women and men to certain roles, positions and careers. According to a UNDP report on women’s leadership in Viet Nam, few women achieve senior government positions. In the civil service, women hold very few senior posts: only nine percent among ministers, eight percent of vice ministers, and seven percent at director-general level. The current situation is far from where Viet Nam has stated it wants to be. The National Strategy on Gender Equality sets a target of a minimum 35 percent women’s representation in elected office, but currently the National Assembly is only 24 percent female. There are gaps in policies and their implementation, and advancement is also restricted due to traditional views on gender norms. These views, held by men and women, are shaped in large part by societal stereotypes. UNDP and UNFPA in Viet Nam recently launched a campaign to place a spotlight on these discriminatory stereotypes and behaviors.