Speech at the on-line conference on implementation of gender equality law

28 Jan 2010

Speaker: Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:       28 January 2010
Event:     On-line conference on implementation of gender equality law

Your Excellency, Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan; Minister of Labour and Chairwoman of the Committee for Women’s Advancement;
Mdm Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, Chairwoman, Viet Nam Women’s Union;
Mr Dao Viet Trung, Vice Minister, MOFA;
Mr Nguyen The Trung, Deputy Head, Central Party Mass Mobilization Committee;
Mmd Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, Deputy Head, Central Party Economics Committee;
Dear friends and colleagues;

Thank you very much for inviting me to this important conference. It is encouraging to see that Viet Nam has made good progress in gender equality. On a daily basis, I see for myself how Vietnamese women take an active part in economic and social life. Yet Vietnamese women also continue to face serious obstacles – both professionally and in their private life.

From my perspective, I believe there are three elements which need to be addressed in order to achieve greater gender equality in Viet Nam.

First of all, it is important to have the right policies, strategies and laws in place.

Let me congratulate you on your leadership in this area. Viet Nam already has a strong legal framework which supports women’s advancement. This includes the important laws on gender equality and domestic violence, as well as the National Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women and Resolution 11, which you will be discussing today. Other important frameworks are the National Strategy on Gender Equality and the National Target Programme – both, I understand, will be submitted to the National Assembly at the next session.

My second point is the importance of having the right process and political will.

Having a good legal framework is not enough – existing laws and policies also need to be implemented. This remains a challenge in Viet Nam. I believe that the policies and laws need to be institutionalized and in this regard, the best decisions are made when both male and female points of view are taken into account. For instance, while 25 percent of National Assembly members are women, it is also a fact that women’s participation in decision-making forums – such as the People’s Councils and Cabinet – remains limited. We know from a recent Ministerial visit to the UK and Finland that setting national and organizational –level targets or quotas can be effective tools to make this happen, together with organizational plans for achieving these targets.

Thirdly, I want to stress the importance of building capacity and having good data.

We all need to have quality data so that we can accurately track the progress being made as well as identify remaining gaps and challenges. We also need to ensure that national and provincial authorities and officials have the right skills and knowledge needed to monitor, implement and evaluate key gender laws and policies. 

The UN is supporting Viet Nam in all these areas. A key part of our support is focused around a joint UN programme on gender equality. This programme specifically supports research and analyses for policies, the implementation of the two laws on gender equality and domestic violence, and building skills, knowledge and reliable data.

On behalf of the UN and UNDP, I would like to stress that we will continue to work with you, our national partners and provide support to Viet Nam in its efforts to advance gender equality even further.

I wish you a productive workshop. Thank you.