Ho Chi Minh City authorities and companies have unveiled numerous measures to benefit female workers in industrial parks and zones in recent years.

Of more than 268,000 workers in the city's 15 industrial parks and export processing zones, 161,000 are women, according to the HCM City Industrial Park and Export Processing Zone Authority (HEPZA).

Since 2008, HEPZA has worked with trade unions and the Workers Supporting Foundation to provide scholarships and interest-free loans to outstanding women workers who want to improve their education and professional skills.

Nguyen Van Khai, deputy chairman of the city's Confederation of Labour, said his agency has worked with local authorities and companies to organise activities to benefit female workers in industrial parks and export processing zones.

It has also stepped up oversight to ensure companies follow labour law provisions, he said.

The confederation's women's boards have organised activities to provide 6.5 billion VND (309,000 USD) to more than 7,900 workers who had workplace accidents, serious sickness, and general difficulties this year.

The boards have also organised periodic health checks for women workers, launched a programme to help them repair their houses, and provided them with information about job vacancies free of charge.

Many companies too have programmes to benefit their female employees such as building dormitories and providing them with sports and other entertainment activities.

Women are employed mostly in sectors like textile and garment, leather, footwear, electronics, and food processing.

A large number of them come from other provinces but seldom take part in amusement activities because they do not have money to spend on them or are too tired to go looking for them.

The Institute of Community Health and Development organised on August 28 an orientation workshop for their new project, "We are Women – A Rights-based Approach to Empowering Migrant Women in Vietnam."

Provided 200,000 USD by the Fund for Gender Equality, the project aims to improve rural migrant women's access to socio-economic rights, especially those working in the informal sector.

Women migrants face various risks stemming from their inability, in many cases, to access basic services and adequate living conditions; their differential treatment in the labour market; and the social stigma attached to them.

Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that some migrant women in Vietnam are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence as they are engaged in domestic work hidden from the outside world and difficult to regulate, though the new Labour Code recognises domestic workers.

If these gender issues are not recognised and addressed properly, it is feared that new socio-economic empowerment achievements will lack sustainability and transformative power.

The project is expected to enhance the rights of women migrant workers, including increased access to the use of social welfare and health services; increase capacity of rural migrant men and women to access and utilise economic empowerment opportunities; and usher in gender equality to strengthen socio-economic positions of rural migrant women, both at destination places and hometowns.

The project will be managed and led by LIGHT, a non-governmental organisation which has been working with rural migrants for the last 10 years.

Its four main partners include people's committees, the Women's Union, and the Farmers Union at all levels and a cooperative of migrants it supports.

The project will be implemented in five wards in Hanoi (destination place) and six rural communes (places of origin).

An estimated 1,140 women and 1,090 men will directly benefit from the interventions through the project, while another 6,270 women and 5,630 men will be indirect beneficiaries as a result of improvements.-VNA