The Vietnamese Government has always attached importance to building and developing policies and programmes to promote gender equality and ensure women’s rights.

National Assembly Vice Chairwomen Tong Thi Phong told a seminar on ethnic women and development issues recently held by the United Nations in Vietnam that the country’s first Constitution in 1946 already endows all citizens, men or women alike, with equal rights in all aspects.

By now, gender equality and women’s rights have been institutionalised in a range of legal documents such as the Law on Election of National Assembly Deputies, the Law on Election of Deputies to People’s Councils, the Law on Gender Equality and the Law on Marriage and Family, she said.

The legislator further said Vietnam is one of the first countries to sign and ratify the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) at an early date and have integrated its regulations in the country’s laws.

She highlighted Vietnam’s major achievements in the promotion of women’s rights such as the issuance of regulations and rules on gender equality and non-discrimination in line with the 2006 Law on Gender Equality and the CEDAW.

The country has also launched a national strategy on gender equality for the 2011-2020 period with the aim of raising awareness, narrowing gender gap and enhancing women’s position, she said.

According to the lawmaker, Vietnam has actively implemented international and regional initiatives in efforts to push for the protection of women’s rights and fight discrimination against women.

Last year, the NA passed the revised Labour Law to extend maternity leave from four to six months, she said.

The Vietnamese Government has completed a periodic report on the implementation of the Convention during the 2004-2010 period based on consultations with relevant agencies and organisations and people of all social strata.

According to Vietnam ’s national report on human rights submitted under the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, the national strategy on gender equality and women’s progress has come to regions and areas which see high inequality or potential risks of inequality.

The move has helped prevent and drive back women trafficking and domestic violence while creating conditions for women to improve their knowledge.

The Government has deployed solutions in terms of law enforcement and international cooperation to surpass challenges regarding the awareness about gender equality, and eliminate gender and domestic violence as well as gender gaps of employment, income and social position.

With women accounting for 24.4 percent of deputies in the 13th National Assembly (2011-2016), Vietnam ranks 43rd out of 143 countries globally and second in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Women have assumed many key leading posts such as Vice President, Vice National Assembly Chairperson and Minister. In addition, 14 out of 30 ministries or Government-affiliated agencies have female deputy ministers.

Many women are holding key positions in local administrations, contributing to handling important issues, Doan said, adding that women have shined in other areas such as business, education and healthcare.

Presently, female workers make up 49 percent. By the end of 2011, female literacy was 92 percent and about 80 percent of girls at remote, far-flung and ethnic regions go to school at the right age.

Thanks to such efforts, Vietnam was placed 47th out of 187 countries in the UN’s Gender Inequality Index last year compared with its 58 th position out of 136 countries recorded in 2010.

However, Vietnam is still faced with an array of challenges such as low percentage of ethnic women involving in leadership at all levels and high poverty rate among minority groups.

The government will continue working to raise public awareness of gender equality while strengthening international cooperation in dealing with gender inequality, especially among disadvantaged groups and in strategic realms such as education, healthcare and employment.-VNA