Building Pathways to Gender Equality for the Business Sector through the Women’s Empowerment Principles: Viet Nam Policy Roadmap Country Action Brief
Viet Nam upholds a positive reputation as a country where women enjoy formal equality under the law, have a comparatively high workforce participation, access to economic opportunity, and ever improving health and higher education attainments. Despite this, existing gender gaps persist. These gaps include: a widening sex ratio at birth in the context of son preference; stereotypes on gender-appropriate fields of study and streaming into a narrow range of occupations; vulnerable, unprotected and low paid employment among women; bias against women in leadership, especially with respect to holding executive positions; a high prevalence of intimate partner violence, alongside the low availability of support services; and a societal expectation that women are responsible for unpaid care work in the home, and obliged to balance this with paid work - in the face of a limited child and elderly care infrastructure.
The COVID-19 global pandemic inflicted a gender specific toll. In Viet Nam, women’s workforce participation has tapered as a result of their predominance in the sectors of tourism, retail, hospitality and light manufacturing – all hardest hit by the negative impacts of the pandemic. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), where women predominate as owners, were severely impacted by COVID-19-related downturns. The COVID-19 global pandemic has served to exacerbate and increase women’s unpaid care work and the concurrent shadow pandemic of escalating violence against women in the household. This is the moment to challenge the untenable burdens placed on women, underpinned by persistent traditional cultural mores, and institute policies that invest in the care economy which would deliver considerable benefits to women in their engagement in the public domain and open up women’s access to available opportunities in employment and business.
UN Women Asia Pacific Office and UN Women in Viet Nam has developed the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Policy Brief Series in ASEAN to promote women’s empowerment and gender forward policies for ASEAN member states. Building Pathways to Gender Equality for the Business Sector through the Women’s Empowerment Principles: Viet Nam Policy Roadmap Country Action Brief (hereafter, this Brief) provides a summary overview of public-sector policies and strategies recommended for Viet Nam to advance the implementation of the seven WEPs.