Vietnam's National Strategy on Gender Equality 2021-2030

Vietnam's gender equality framework, including the National Strategy on Gender Equality 2011-2020 and the latest 2021-2030 strategy, has positioned the country as one of the top ten countries in the world best implementing UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 - promoting gender equality and empowering all women and girls [1]. Initiatives implemented as a result of the 2011-2020 strategy successfully equalled the literacy race between men and women aged 15-60 years old, and the Law on Support to Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in 2017 prioritised state funding for eligible women-owned SMEs. As a result, the country was ranked 10th in Asia and 25th globally for women's participation in entrepreneurial activities in 2020 [2]. Currently, around half of SME entrepreneurs are women and participation in the labour force is almost gender-equal - one of the highest rankings in the world.


Despite this progress, gender inequalities remain. For example, although participation in the labour force is almost equal, gaps remain in high-level representation as there is just one woman for every eight men in top management roles [3]. There were also several targets not met by the 2011-2020 strategy. The proportion of businesswomen reached 24 percent across the decade, a figure considerably lower than the set target of 30 percent by 2015 and over 35 percent by 2020. Furthermore, the percentage of rural women workers under 45 years old who receive professional and technical training only reached 17.4 percent as opposed to the target of 25 percent. The pay gap also persists at around 29.5 percent; 21.5 percent in urban settings and 35.2 percent in rural areas [4].


The shortcomings of the 2011-2020 plan, however, created space for new targets and initiatives to be set for the National Strategy on Gender Equality 2021-2030. Vietnam could add a projected $40 billion a year to its GDP by 2025 by improving gender equality [5] and now the country aims to pursue further socio-economic development through targeted investment that challenges social norms and fosters women's entrepreneurship, increases equal participation in the workplace, and addresses gender-based violence and discrimination across fields.


Some of the key targets set by the National Strategy on Gender Equality 2021-2030 include:

  • By 2025, 60 percent of state management agencies and local administration at all levels will have female leaders. This is set to increase to over 75 percent by 2030.

  • Increasing the rate of female employees engaged in paid work to 50 percent by 2025 and to 60 percent by 2030.

  • Reduce the average time women spend doing unpaid housework by 1.7 times compared to that of men by 2025, and 1.4 times by 2030.

  • By 2025, 80 percent of women suffering from domestic abuse and Gender-based violence will be given access to at least one basic support service. This figure is expected to reach 90 percent by 2030.

  • Decrease maternal mortality rates to 42 per 100,000 live births by 2025 and below 42 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

  • Integrate gender and gender equality into the curriculum at schools and pedagogical Universities from 2025.

  • Implement the Month of Action for gender equality and the prevention and response to gender-based violence from Nov 15 to Dec 15.


In order to meet targets set by the national strategy, Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women in Vietnam, who provided technical support in building the strategy, has called for a serious integration of targets into programmes and plans at a local level, as well as dedicated adequate financial resources at a national level to fund the strategy [6]. Companies and businesses have a key role to play in increasing the equal participation of women in the workforce at all levels and can help to eliminate bias and discrimination from their workplaces during the hiring process as well as through targeted policies, training and awareness sessions. By tackling inequality at an institutional level, businesses can contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country as a whole.


References:

[1], [6] Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations - 'Vietnam exerts every effort to advance gender equality'

[2], [4] Vietnam Briefing - 'Vietnam Implements Gender Equality Strategy but Challenges Remain'

[3], [5] McKinsey & Company - 'Advancing gender equality in Vietnam: A crucial balancing act'


Further Resources

[1] General Statistics Office - 'Gender Equality in Labour and Access to Management Work in Viet Nam'

[2] Open Development Mekong - 'Vietnam builds new national strategy on gender equality'

[3] Luat Vietnam - 'Resolution No. 28/NQ-CP the National Strategy on Gender Equality in 2021-2030

[4] Vietnam Law & Legal Forum - 'Vietnam issues new national strategy on gender equality'