Vietnam is well aware that gender equality is a basic human right which is both a national objective and an important factor to the socio-economic development, National Assembly (NA) Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong said at a meeting on gender equality in Hanoi on October 28.

Chairing the informal discussion group on gender equality, the legislator said the Vietnamese parliament has made great efforts in making policies and a legal framework that promote the implementation of human rights, gender equality and the eradication of violence against women. She noted that the 2013 Constitution designated a whole chapter on human rights, including those of women.

Vietnam also issued the Law on Gender Equality, the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, and a national target on gender equality, she added.

However, she admitted Vietnam has not met targets relating to women in elective agencies while the number of female NA deputies has decreased over the past decade.

In 1997, the country was among the ten countries with the highest percentage of women in parliament. However, it dropped to the 44th place in the world in 2012 with the percentage reducing to under 30 percent. The NA Vice Chairwoman added that the respective targets of 35-40 percent of seats in the NA and local People’s Councils occupied by women by 2020 are a real challenge.

Head of Vietnam’s Female NA Deputies Group Truong Thi Mai and Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Font’s Central Committee Vu Trong Kim pointed out the fact that voters tend to choose male candidates instead of women who have the same qualifications under the impact of the deep-rooted preference for men in the country.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Pratibha Mehta spoke highly of Vietnam’s attention to gender equality, which is manifested in the realisation of the UN Millennium Goal on reducing maternal and child fatality, the clear improvement of women’s educational level, and the country’s high commitment to carrying out the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Pratibha Mehta, who co-chairs the Informal Ambassadors and Heads of Agencies Coordination Group on Gender, suggested Vietnam include the percentage of women in elective agencies in its laws.

Vietnamese and foreign participants proposed measures to raise the number of women winning elections such as raising local officials’ awareness of the role of women, improving the capacity and the number of female candidates, and encouraging women to vote in elections.-VNA