PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (fifth from left) at the third ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – “We cannot become an ASEAN community of solidarity, resilience, innovation and sustainable development without the engagement of women and girls. Thus, they deserve equality in families and society, protection and empowerment to realise their full rights”, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Addressing at the third ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women (AMMW-3) opened in Hanoi on October 25, PM Phuc spoke highly of the cooperation among ASEAN member states in the Socio-Cultural Community, with the AMMW playing an important role.

ASEAN women have made significant contributions to prosperity in the region, he said, adding that proportion of seats held by women in the ASEAN countries’ parliaments exceeds 20 percent while the number of businesswomen has increased in recent years.

According to the PM, in Vietnam, various initiatives have integrated into national programmes to promote gender equality and improve social welfare for women and children. Vietnam each year spends some 2.6 percent of its GDP on social support programmes, including those for women and girls. Particularly, the Government has strictly carried out the Law on Gender Equality 2006, and the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Thanks to the efforts, the female representation in the 14th National Assembly accounts for 27.1 percent, a high level as compared to the region and the world, and up to 98 percent of businesses owned by women are small-and medium-sized enterprises, he said.

The government leader also pointed to the existing disadvantage of ASEAN women who make up 45 percent of the bloc’s workforce but earn less than their male peers.

Quoting statistics of the UN Women, which says women only contribute a modest 11 percent to the total export revenue of the bloc although the ASEAN economy expands 5 percent per year in the past decade and is expected to grow additional 30 percent during 2013-2025, PM Phuc said: “These matters urged us to take joint actions and have effective measures to enhance women’s position in the new era”.

He took the occasion to recommend collaboration related women and girls within the bloc in the coming time, which comprises equipping  women with new skills and forming life-long study network in the bloc in line with the jobs’ requirements in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, ensuring sustainable jobs for all and abolishing all barriers for women to access to employment opportunities, and bettering social welfare to women and girls through completing mechanisms, regulations, and social insurance.

At the event, Vietnamese Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung laid stress on social welfare and equality for women and girls, saying that this is the premise for regional advancement and equality.

“We should join hands to build a better future for women and girls in the ASEAN, for a community of opportunity and equality and for an ASEAN of leaving no one behind,” he said.

The AMMW-3 is taking place in Hanoi from October 18-25 in the context that the ASEAN is accelerating the implementation of commitments and priorities in social welfare and gender equality.-VNA