A seminar was held in the southern province of Dong Nai from July 4-5 to raise awareness of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Co-organised by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Vietnam, the seminar introduced the contents of CEDAW and Vietnam’s laws and policies on protecting women’s rights, as well as discussing issues around marriage of Vietnamese women to foreigners.

According to the UNHCR in Vietnam , in every place and culture, females were always the most vulnerable people. In the world, over half a million women died through pregnancy complications and tens of millions of baby girls were killed through abortions for gender selection each year.

Four million women and girls were traded annually and at least 1 million girls were forced to become sex workers, said the UNHCR.

In Vietnam , gender inequality in economics, education, culture and information and family life was common, especially in rural and ethnic-inhabited areas.

In addition, the rate of abortions, especially for teenagers and young women, remained high.

In 2010, about 300,000 Vietnamese women registered to get married to foreigners and 10 percent of the marriages failed.

MoLISA and UNHCR suggested that Vietnam should focus on the enforcement of existing laws and policies on gender equality and the wide dissemination of CEDAW and the Law on Gender Equality in the languages of ethnic minority groups to complete the National Strategy on Gender Equality between now and 2020

The country should have measures to change patriarchal attitudes and preconceptions on gender roles and increase women’s access to reproductive health care services, as well as prioritise comprehensive measures to abolish all forms of violence against women and girls.

After the two-day seminar in Dong Nai, similar events will be held in the central province of Ninh Thuan and the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang./.