Since 2017, Union Aid Abroad APHEDA has been conducting a project to improve the status of women in Vietnam and strengthen women’s rights to equality through increasing the representation of women in politics. This project has been implemented in three provinces of Haiduong, Phuyen and Bac Kan.
The project has had important wins. The rates of women candidates and elected in the project provinces have all increased compared with the previous term. It has also strengthened the networking and cooperation amongst women leaders and has advanced in the institutionalisation of parity rates and indicators.
Through activities such as training courses, gatherings, meetings, exchanges of experiences, communication, and monitoring of gender equality, the project has achieved:
- Greater gender equality for deputies of provincial and district People’s Council.
- Exchange of experiences and skills among project-targeted districts, provinces, and other provinces.
- Improved community awareness of women in leadership and management through communication events.
- Monitoring of issues related to gender equality and presentation of solution propositions to competent authorities.
- Improved capacity of women deputies of the National Assembly and People’s Council at all levels through program knowledge, skills, and confidence-building.
Successful increase of woman candidates and elected leaders
There has been exciting progress. A surge in women candidates and elected representatives in project provinces. Bac Kan has achieved the highest
rate with a remarkable 6% surge in female candidates and a 3% increase in elected women deputies. Phu Yen achieved an average increase of 1% and 3% and Hai Duong 3% and 2% respectively. In comparison with the national average rate of women deputies in People’s Councils (29%).
Female candidates who received training from the project were more likely to be elected than those in non-project areas. For instance, in Phu Yen Province, which is new to the project, candidates trained and participating in the election for the first time were about 24% more likely to be elected than those who did not participate in the project’s training.
Cooperation and solidarity have played a crucial role in advancing women in politics. Three clubs composed of 73 women deputies were established. Additionally, six networks were organized with 549 women deputies of the People’s Council at the communal level. Furthermore, six coordination groups of People’s Council deputies (both men and women) were formed, responsible for coordinating and supporting the networks.
Institutionalising gender equality
To strengthen gender equality, the project has also focused on promoting the institutionalisation of women’s participation in politics. Through the project’s seminars, woman have promoted the increase in the percentage of female leaders in Party committees. This has contributed to the project provinces including a 15% rate of women candidates for Party Committees in the Party Congress Election Plan at all levels. The project has also developed the idea of institutionalising gender equality indicators and raised this topic with the People’s Committees.
The successful incorporation of gender-specific indicators into provincial development plans stands out as a notable achievement of the project. In Bac Kan, three indicators have already been included. In Hai Duong, they await approval, and in Phu Yen, they are in the final stages of drafting. Nonetheless, the importance of policy dialogue, consistently emphasized, challenged, and initiated by women participants themselves, cannot be overstated and has begun to bring about positive changes (Source: Final Evaluation Report ‘Promoting Gender Equality in Political Decision Making in Vietnam,’ October 2021).
Closing the gap
In the last ten years, Vietnam has witnessed significant changes in gender equality. However, the gap still exists and requires attention. A review of the
National Strategy on Gender Equality (NSGE) for 2011-2020 revealed that two-thirds of its targets were met, seven were not met, and one lacked sufficient data for measurement. Notably, none of the three targets related to political leadership was achieved.
The provisions for improving the capacities of women leaders are quite limited. There exists a percentage gap between women serving as deputies in the People’s Councils at the provincial, district, and commune levels and those in the National Assembly. Vietnam is currently ranked 87th out of 153 countries in terms of narrowing the gender gap.
Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA is currently supporting the “Promoting Gender Equality in Political Decision-Making in Vietnam” project which also receives support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and Irish Aid.