Women's leadership: Empowerment of women in the period of international integration


Over the last several decades, Viet Nam has gained great achievements in gender equality and empowerment of women. Viet Nam is regarded as one of the champions in the region about women’s participation in politics. Gender equality and women empowerment is one of important aspects in country’s overall strategy of socio-economic development and international integration.

The Party, State and Government has always attached importance to gender equality and has adopted many various policies to promote women participation and representation in the National Assembly, government, thus strengthening their contribution and roles in the period of international integration.

The Constitution ensures that men and women enjoy equal rights under the law, and the Gender Equality Law, which came into effect on July 1, 2007, provides a legal framework through which women can realize their rights. The National Programme on Gender Equality in 2011–2015 period includes a specific activity area on strengthening women leaders at the administrative and legislative level as well as building the women candidate for the 2016 elections.

These efforts shows that Viet Nam takes seriously the rights and voices of women and considers the indicators of gender equality as a significant measure of the level of development of the country and an important aspect of international cooperation and international integration. Apart from above-mentioned achievements, the last election in 2011 saw a decrease in the number of women elected to the National Assembly. In the People’s Councils there has been a small increase in women’s representation however both at the national and sub-national level, the target of 30 per cent representation set in the National Strategy on Gender Equality has not been met. In the National Assembly, only 24 per cent of the Deputies are women, a decrease from the previous term. Sub-nationally, women’s political representation is at 22 per cent (combined provincial, district and commune). Although capable women can be found in all levels of the Government, only 2 out of the 26 members of the current cabinet are woman. The number of women appointed as Chairs of People’s Council is low; 3 out of 63 of the Provincial People Council Chairs and 1 out of 63 of the Provincial People Committee Chairs are women. At the administrative level, approximately 9 per cent of Director General positions are held by women and less than those hold Vice Minister or Minister level positions. The National Committee for the Advancement of Women estimates that women hold less than one-third of management positions in private and state-owned enterprises.

Numerous reasons have been cited for women’s decreasing representation in the civil service and in political positions. Studies conducted by national and international experts with the support of the Empowerment of Women in the Public Sector project (EOWP)3 found that the wide spread belief that women cannot be leaders, men’s lack of support in the household and support for their spouses careers has held women back from equal representation in leadership positions. This attitude is also extended in the workplace; women are not nominated for overseas and in-country trainings at the same rate as men and they are nominated less frequently than men for promotions.

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen women’s representation and participation at legislative and administrative levels, contributing to the realization of the strategy and the objectives of building a democratic, just and civilized society.

What are the project's key results?

1. Component 1: Institutional Leadership Program
Output: Strengthened institutional capacity to develop and implement leadership programs for women to support the achievement of targets set in the National Strategy on Gender Equality.

2. Component 2: Preparations for the 2016 elections
Output: Women’s representation in the National Assembly and People’s Councils improved in the 2016 elections.

3. Component 3: Human Resource Procedures
Output: Human resource procedures revised to promote women’s participation in leadership positions.

4. Component 4: Capacity Building and Training
Output: Increased access of mid and senior level women in the civil service to training and capacity building opportunities not normally offered or accessible to women.

5. Component 5: Research, Awareness Raising and Media Campaign
Output: Information and evidences strategically disseminated to decision makers in human resource management with practical recommendations to make a change in processes.

Finance, Executing and Implementing Agency

Project Number:
Funding: 2,950,000 USD
Executing Agency: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam
Implementing Agency: Ho Chi Minh Academy of Politics and Public Administration (HCMA)

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