UN Women, Japan launch project to reduce COVID-19 impacts on women and girls hinh anh 1 Second Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam Sasaki Shohei (first, right), Country Representative of UN Women Vietnam Elisa Fernandez Saenz (centre), and Chairwoman of the Da Nang Women’s Union Hoang Thi Thu Huong pose for a photo at the launch of the project to reduce the risks and negative impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls in Hanoi on August 2. (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – UN Women Vietnam and the Embassy of Japan on August 2 announced a one-year project to reduce the risks and negative impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls.

The project aims to support about 5,000 poor and vulnerable women in nine provinces and cities, including Hanoi, Da Nang, Dien Bien, Ha Tinh, Ho Chi Minh City, Tien Giang, Nghe An, Thai Binh and Lao Cai.

The priority targets are women at risk of violence, those with disabilities, migrant workers, ethnic minorities, people working in the informal sector and those living in disaster-prone areas.

Apart from receiving the COVD-19 prevention kits, which include test kits, medical masks and anti-bacteria gel, the beneficiaries will also be equipped with the necessary skills to prevent and respond to COVID-19, disasters, gender-based violence and information about the available support services. Women survivors of gender-based violence at shelters and the Peace House will be supported in COVID-19 medical examinations and treatment.

The project is a part of a nearly 20-billion-VND (855,800 USD) regional project implemented in four Mekong countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam by UN Women Asia-Pacific, with the financial support from the Japanese Government.

Interventions are also designed to improve the quality of gender-responsive services and the capacity of staff working at Migrant Resource Centres, Vietnam Women’s Union at all levels, social organisations in the nine cities and provinces.

Due to COVID-19, women’s labour force participation rate fell 8 points between 2019 and 2021, from 70.9% to 62.3%. COVID-19 contributed to a reduction in working hours for women, and the loss of jobs across manufacturing and services. A rapid assessment conducted by UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women with the support of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in 2021 found that women and children in particular were at greater risk during the period of social isolation. The study found that in Vietnam more than one in three women experienced at least one form of violence during the pandemic period, with more women reporting experiencing controlling behaviors and economic violence.

“Emerging evidence over the past year confirmed that the pandemic had a regressive effect on gender equality,” said Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women Vietnam. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, in Vietnam many women have suffered from loss of employment, reduced household income, inadequate housing, lack of life-saving support and services, limited social protection measures, as well as increased stress at home, along with unacceptable high levels of intimate partner violence.”

“We hope that this project presents an opportunity for restructuring and creating a ‘new normal’ in which no one is left behind”, said Sasaki Shohei, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam.

As the representative of the project’s local partners, Hoang Thi Thu Huong, Chairwoman of the Da Nang Women’s Union said: “The Danang Women's Union representing nine cities and provinces participating in the project highly appreciates UN Women's timely support in COVID-19 gender-responsive responses. Equipping women, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups with COVID-19 prevention information and supplies, is essential, especially when the pandemic is still ongoing but many people might have let their guard down.”/.