Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan has asked local authorities to better women's participation in politics while reviewing a 10-year programme on gender equality and women's advancement.

At a conference on the topic held in the Mekong delta's Can Tho City on April 21, Nhan called on the National Committee for the Advancement of Women and the Department for Gender Equality to start implementing projects to improve women's political skills to reach the 2020 targets on the proportion of women in politics.

He said local authorities and election councils should help women candidates improve their campaigning in the upcoming National Assembly and People's Council polls.

Deputy Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thanh Hoa said efforts will be made to increase the rate of women members to 35 per cent in the National Assembly and all People's Councils by 2020.

The women rate in Party committees at the provincial and district levels will be more than 25 percent by then, he said.

Ministries, Government agencies, and People's Committee at all levels will have female leaders, he added.

But unless efforts get under way soon, it will be difficult to achieve the targets, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, deputy chairwoman of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women, warned.

The rate of women in leading positions in State organisations remains low, she said.

The rate of women participating in Party committees at the provincial and district levels is under 15 percent, though it is higher at the commune level, she said.

In the National Assembly, women's representation was less than 30 percent during the last decade, she said.

The rate is nearly 24 percent in People's Councils at all levels and 25 percent in other Government agencies, she said.

The Ministries of Planning and Investment, Foreign Affairs, Culture, Sports and Tourism and agencies like Vietnam Television have not had women bosses in the last 10 years.

Hoa attributed the situation to a lack of cooperation between relevant agencies for drafting plans for the advancement of women in politics.

Other obstacles include the family burden women have to bear and prejudices against their management capacity, she said.

Also, many women themselves do not believe in their capacity, she added.

At the meeting, Nhan hailed the successes in creating jobs for women and providing them access to health care services and education in the last decade.

The rate of unemployment among urban women fell to 4.2 percent in 2010 from 6 percent in 2005, Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa added.

In the last decade the literacy rate among women rose by 3.8 percent to bridge the gap with men, she said.

However, the rate of women graduates has yet to cross 35 percent, while only 19 percent received vocational training.

The percentage of pregnant women receiving check-ups three times and above has risen to 70 percent.
According to the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids, and Social Affairs Vietnam has been appraised by international organisations as a nation that has narrowed the gender gap at the fastest pace over the past 20 years.

The country’s gender development index (GDI) was 0.537 in 1995, ranking 72nd among 130 nations in the world, but it reached 0.732 and placed 94th among 155 nations in 2009.

Vietnam also has a Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) of 0.554 at present, ranking 62 nd among 109 nations./.