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Promoting gender equality in the digital age

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Ms. Le Thi Nga and Ms. Jacqueline Ma at MOLISA forum

By Jacqueline Ma, HealthBridge Vietnam Intern

My name is Jacqueline and I’m completing my second internship with HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, this time in Vietnam. As part of my internship, I am analyzing national policies and strategies on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people in Vietnam. This research supports a youth-focused activity within HealthBridge’s project called Saving Lives of Mothers and Children in Nepal and Vietnam, which focuses on Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, & Child Health.

Gender equality is one of the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve gender equality, women and girls need to have equal rights, opportunities, and to live free from violence or discrimination. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a forum held by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) in Vietnam. The meeting brought together stakeholders from different sectors. This included many government ministries, international organizations (UN Women, UNICEF), international and non-governmental organizations, and research institutions. The gathering stressed the importance of highlighting gender equality in the digital age, with an emphasis on fair employment.

Deputy Minister of MOLISA, Nguyen Thi Ha, explained that in recent years, Vietnam has built and worked to advance its policies and legal system to support gender equality. Despite the recent achievements, Vietnam still faces challenges. Six of the most pressing gender-related issues include:

  1. Low participation of women in management and leadership levels.
  2. Female workers work in high-risk industries such as farming, animal husbandry, and textiles and garments.
  3. Vulnerability of women’s economic livelihood in comparison to men when businesses cut or downsize their workforce.
  4. Female business owners have limited access to professional development.
  5. An imbalanced sex ratio at birth, 112 male births per 100 females.
  6. Violence, human trafficking, exploitation of labor, and sexual assault are all serious issues for women in Vietnam.

Opportunities in the digital age

In today’s digital age, automated systems are expected to replace labor-intensive jobs. Female workers, low-skilled and low-wage workers are at risk of replacement. However, Director of MOLISA, Dr. Dao Quang Vinh, stressed that this transition will not happen overnight. The digital revolution will also affect many other countries too. To adapt to the changing labor market, men and women workers need equitable access to proper training. Training can help them build relevant skills and lead to employment opportunities.

The forum concluded with a hopeful message – that we share a common goal of enabling the next generations to thrive in a changing world. Every individual should have an equal opportunity to pursue their aspirations, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, creed or sexual orientation. Although we cannot address these issues overnight, it is important to continue having these conversations to ensure everyone’s rights are protected. Attending this forum helped me to better understand the intersections of gender, labor, and health as well as the main gender-related issues in Vietnam. I will take what I learned and apply it to my research on adolescent reproductive health and rights during my internship.