Strengthening women’s leadership

07 Dec 2010

Nha Trang – At a recent conference on gender equality Mme Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Minister of Labour and head of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women (NCFAW) stressed the importance of increasing the representation of women in leadership and decision-making positions in public life.

“It is important not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because we need to mobilize women’s potential for socio-economic development,” she said.

Speaking at the conference, Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director, welcomed the strong political will to see change in this area. She also stressed the need to focus on the implementation of existing laws and policies on gender equality, particularly at the sub-national level, which is often a greater challenge for many countries.

The conference, organized by the Office of the NCFAW and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support from UNDP, updated provincial and local women leaders on the new National Strategy for Gender Equality from 2011 to 2020, due to be approved in December. This strategy now has specific targets on women’s representation in decision-making at all levels.

Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, Director of the Institute for Labour and Social Security, presented research from a World Bank funded study, reminding participants that the earlier retirement age for women has a negative impact on their training and promotion opportunities and is a major obstacle to women achieving their leadership potential. Speakers at the workshop also included Suzette Mitchell, UNIFEM representative in Viet Nam, as well as the Irish, Canadian and Finnish ambassadors.

The conference concluded with a number of strong recommendations. These include the need for clearer accountability and stronger penalties for non-achievement of women’s leadership targets and the need to address the retirement age of women as a matter of priority. The importance of ensuring the current revision of the Labour Code addresses maternity leave and other practices not in line with the Gender Equality Law was also raised. Finally, there was also a clear recommendation to work with media on a long-term advocacy campaign to address gender stereotypes of male and female leaders.

See also:

The speech by Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director

The presentation by the Finnish ambassador on the experiences in Finland

Link to the World Bank study on retirement age