Helping women on road to National Assembly
Ha Noi - With the upcoming elections of the National Assembly in May 2002, the National Committee for the Advancement of Women, with the financial support of UNDP and the Netherlands, is providing support to first time women candidates, from the 61 provinces, in their preparation for the elections.
Six workshops in 5 provinces/cities including Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city are designed to empower women candidates to deepen their understanding of the elections process and to identify concrete strategies to increase their chances of success. Topics discussed among the women candidates include, among other, leadership and management skills, presentation skills, stakeholder analysis, electoral law, negotiation and gender issues.
"This activity has a great significance as one of the important objectives of the Party and State of Vietnam in the forthcoming National Assembly Tenure is to increase women deputies from 26,22% to over 30%", said Mme Ha Thi Khiet, president of the Vietnam Women's Union during the opening of the workshop held in Ha Noi. The ultimate goal is to improve the gender balance in the National Assembly.
Mr. Jordan Ryan, the UNDP Resident Representative noted, "Women must participate in decisions affecting their lives and the lives of their families and country. In UNDP, we believe that women as leaders can bring new and different perspectives to the process of change and development." Ryan stressed that "by providing gender awareness training for women candidates, it is expected that once elected, the women parliamentarians will positively influence policy formulation and decision making to foster greater gender equality."
In addition to be elected, women deputies should raise their voice so that women's concerns can be heard, emphasised Mme Ha Thi Khiet.
The rate of women in the Vietnamese parliament is the highest rate (26.2%) for the Asian region. However, ensuring women are involved in decision-making processes from communes to the national level, remains a challenge, especially for ethnic minority and rural women who are most isolated from decision-making processes. Heavy workload is one factor constraining women from participating in collective consultations (e.g village meetings) and decision-making bodies. In rural Viet Nam women are working about sixteen to eighteen hours per day; on average, about six to eight hours longer than men per day.
Promoting first time women candidates to the National Assembly is therefore one way of promoting the advancement of women and gender equality. Gender equality aims to ensure that women have equal rights and equal access as men to resources and to decision-making.