The VWU’s functions are to represent, care for and protect the legitimate and legal rights and interests of women from all walks of life, participate in the Party-building and State management, unite women and encourage them to follow the line and orientation of the Party and the policies and laws of the State, and mobilize the society to realize gender equality.
The VWU is a member of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), and the ASEAN Confederation of Women’s Organizations (ACWO).
The VWU has a network that operates throughout Vietnam at four administrative levels of central, provincial, district and commune ones with a total membership of above 19 million women (as of 2022).
The history of VWU is closely attached to the country’s history for national independence and development.
During the period of 1930-1945, VWU had different names, such as the Liberalization Women's Union (1931-1945), the Anti-Imperialism Women's Union (1936-1938), the Democratic Women's Union (1939-1940), and the Women League for National Salvation (1941-1950). These predecessors of the VWU had undertaken the common task of mobilizing women nationwide to take part in the anti-feudalism and anti-imperialism movements led by the Communist Party to struggle for the power of the people.
In May 1950, the First National Women's Congress was held and decided to reorganize the Women League for National Salvation to become the Vietnam Women’s Union - the unique political organization of women in Vietnam. At that time, VWU's membership was 3 million. VWU had encouraged its members across the country actively participate in the process of the national building and in anti-French colonial resistance war, defending the young state.
During the period of 1955-1975, when the whole country was tasked to liberate the South from the domination by American imperialists and its agents, protect socialism in the North, and ultimately unify the country, VWU had initiated many emulation movements all over the country such as "5 goods", and "3 abilities", etc. Also, the Women’s Union for the South Liberation was established in 1961 to directly instruct women’s movement in the South, contributing to the liberation of the South.
From 1976 to 1985, the American war ended and the country was unified, the Vietnamese nation started new tasks of recovering from war aftermaths and mobilizing resources for national economic development. In tune with the national efforts, VWU and Women’s Union for the South Liberation were merged into the VWU as a whole and launched successfully a campaign titled "New women in the national construction and defense" and "resourceful at both family and social work, striving for gender equality”.
Since 1986 to date, the Vietnam Women's Union has been contributing to the National Renovation in different aspects, particularly in women’s empowerment and gender equality. Many women’s movements and campaigns have been launched, namely “Women’s mutual assistance for household economic development” and “Good parenting to reduce children’s malnutrition and school drop-outs” (1989), "Women’s mutual assistance for household economic development and savings for national construction" (1997-2002), and "women actively study, creatively work and nurture happy families" (since 2002 to date); . “Studying and following President Ho Chi Minh’s moral example” and “”Building affection houses” (since 2008), “Women and men work together as equals to share the work in building the family of 5 Without-s and 3 Clean-s”, “Women enhance their self-confidence, self-respect, kind-heartedness and resourcefulness” (since 2010), and “Building the Vietnamese women of the new era”.
In each stage of Vietnamese history, VWU has always fulfilled its duties and tasks, making significant contribution to improving women’s status and realizing the cause of national liberalization, construction and defense.
For recent term of 2017-2022, the VWU at all levels successfully proposed to the central and local authorities the adoption of more than 600 policies benefiting women and children; supported nearly 13 million families to meet the criteria of the Campaign “Building the Families of 5 Without-s & 3 Clean-s” and realized nearly 17,000 projects in contribution to building new-style rural areas; built and replicated over 118 thousand models that advocate and support women to participate in solving social issues; supported nearly 73 thousand women to start up and establish their businesses. Supported the establishment of almost 12 thousand collective economic models and 800 cooperatives; mobilized nearly 32 million USD to build and repair houses for the disadvantaged and 129 million USD for charitable activities; mobilized nearly 20 million USD to support women and children severely affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, etc. The VWU also issued Resolution No.18 on supporting women's international integration by the year 2030 with the goal to raise awareness of and capacity of VWU cadres, members and women for international integration in various fields, such as culture, social affairs, science and technology, economy, security, national defense, and foreign affairs.
In this process, VWU gradually strengthened its organizational structure, renovated its operation activities, contents and methods, and applied new and effective measures to attract more members. At the same time, VWU has also broadened its external relations for better mutual understanding and co-operation for equality, development and peace. Up to date, the VWU has maintained and extended friendship and cooperation with more than 300 organizations from more than 60 countries and territories.
These efforts and contribution of the VWU have been highly appreciated by the State and the Party. President Ho Chi Minh said "The beautiful country of Vietnam has been built and woven by the women, both young and old, with their heartfelt efforts to become more wonderful". On the occasion of VWU 65th anniversary, the Party’s General Secretary Do Muoi awarded the Union with the golden words "Vietnamese women are faithful, capable, talent and heroic". At the 10th Congress in Hanoi, on October 2007, the Party’s General Secretary Nong Duc Manh presented a banner written: “Vietnamese women with unity, creativeness, equality and development making contributions to national renovation in all fields”. The VWU has been awarded with numerous noble orders, medals and certificates of merit by the Party and the State, such as the State Gold Star Order (1985, 2010); the State First-Class Independence Order (2000, 2006, 2015), and the State First-Class Labor Medal (1999, 2005).
Updated April 2023
 5 Without-s: Without poverty, violation of law and social evils, domestic violence, violation of population policies, and having malnourished and school drop-out children; 3 Clean-s: Clean house, kitchen and surrounding areas.