Promoting women’s participation in politics in Vietnam

A policy dialogue on promoting women’s participation in politics was jointly held by the Vietnam Women’s Union, Centre for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women (CEPEW) and ActionAid on March 26th 2012 in Hanoi to discuss specific solutions to enhance the participation of women in leadership and decision-making positions, thus to implement the National Strategy on Gender Equality period 2011-2020.




The workshop has attracted a broad participation by representatives from ministries, agencies, and international organizations.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, Vice President of the VWU, after 5 years of implementation of the Politburo Resolution 11 o­n the Women Personnel Work in the period of national industrialization and modernization and the Gender Equality Law, remarkable results have been made regarding the women personnel work and gender equality. However, the positive changes have been dispropotionate with the women’s potentials and contributions. Some targets of women leaders’ rate have not been achieved for several terms and tend to decrease, such as the rate of women in the National Assembly, in the Central Party Executive Committee (8.57%), and Provincial Party Committees (11.3%). Women have low representation in decision-making and policy-making positions. In particular, many provinces have very low rate of women in Provincial Party Committee’s personnel planning (under 15%). Vice President Nguyen Thi Thu Ha emphasized o­ne of the reasons is that gender equality legal documents and policies for the development of women are not consistent with each other and do not reflect the spirit of Resolution 11 o­n planning, training, retraining, and deployingfemale staffs. VWU Vice President encouraged the participants to present their ideas o­n the workshop topic, especially the findings o­n the gender gaps in policies and specific suggestions to promote the participation of women in the leadership and decision-making process.

CEPEW’s study o­n the women participation in politics in 5 provinces/cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Ninh, Tra Vinh, Dak Lak showed that although the rate of women participating in politics tends to increase in general but the gender gap in quantity and quality of the participation still exists. Women holding few important positions (mainly deputies). For example, out of the 5 provinces, three have female Deputy Secretary of the Party (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Quang Ninh), 5 provinces have female Vice Chair of the People’s Committee, 2 provinces have female members of the Party Permanent Committees or Head of the Party’s Organization Department. The study also pointed out the influencing factors of women's political participation. The major barrier is not the lack of capacity or motivation, but the family factors and stereotypes o­n gender roles. The gender insentitive policies o­n the age limit, quota and process of personnel planning... hinder further women’s participation in politics. o­n the other hand, limitation of the organizational structure, coordination mechanism and implementation capacity of the machines for the enhancement of women's political participation affect the effectiveness of many related policies and plans.

Ms. Vu Ngoc Thuy, Deputy Director of the Gender Equality Department of Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), said that the 1st goal of the National Strategy o­n Gender Equality of Vietnam in the period 2011-2020 is to increase the participation of women in management and leadership and gradually reduce the gender gap in politics. Accordingly, it is targeted at 30% women representation in the Party Committees, National Assembly and People's Councils at all levels in the period 2011-2015 and over 35% in the period 2016 - 2020. To accomplish this goal, activities will focus o­n improving the system of institutions and policies related to the work of women personnel, strengthening the long-term planning of women managers and leaders, which lays the foundation for the period 2016 - 2020, and piloting several schemes of women empowerment at the grassroots, etc.

Dr. Do Minh Cuong from Staff Training Department of the Central Party’s Organization Commission, made ​​a number of recommendations to improve policies o­n planning and training women staff, including the improvement of the female officers planning to become more comprehensive and consistent, and improvement of other elements of the women personnel work such as training, deployment, payment and management of the staff. According to Mr. Cuong, flexible mechanism o­n retirement age should be applied to the highly capable women leaders and managers so as they could retire at the age or even later than male counterparts. Also, it needs stronger mechanisms and more committed actions towards gender equality objectives.

With a lot of comments and discussions at the workshop, the workshop showed a comprehensive picture of women in politics at present, put forward recommendations and measures to promote women’s participation in the leadership and decision-making process. The joint workshop emphasizes VWU’s role in representing the ownership women and in networking with organizations and individuals working for the advancement of women and gender equality.

Translated by International Relations Department