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Friday, 09 February 2018 09:40
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Efforts to implement the objective of gender equality in politics

(LLCT) - In Vietnamese society nowadays, women's contributions can be seen in almost every field. However, statistics imply that women are seemingly outweighted by men in terms of "social value". In order to achieve true genuine equality rights for women, there should have not only consistent viewpoints and policies but also synchronous and feasible solutions that attach to awareness enhancement, content and method renewal to promote women's potentials; to perfect mechanisms and policies of female workforce management and utilization in terms of eliminating gender inequality in domestic and social affairs as well as fields of life.

Key words: Women, gender equality.

1. The Party’s and State’s guidelines on gender equality in politics

Right from its establishment, the Communist Party of Vietnam has addressed gender equality as one of ten crucial missions of the Vietnamese revolution. Since then, the Party has always promoted the role of women and promulgated many resolutions on women affairs namely: Resolution No.152-NQ/TW dated January 10, 1967 on the organization and leadership of women mobilization; Resolution No. 04-NQ/TW dated July 12, 1993 on renovating and strengthening women mobilization in the new situation; Instruction No. 37-CT/TW dated May 16, 1994 on some women affairs in the new situation. Most noticeablely, Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW of the Politburo dated April 27, 2007 on women affairs in the national industrialization and modernization period identified: “To firmly build and develop female staffs in line with the great role of women is an objective requirement and an important issue of the Party’s personnel work strategy”, which was concritize in the development and implementation of the Project to enhance the Party’s leadership for gender equality and women advancement in the new situation (Notice No. 196-TB/TW dated March 16, 2015).

At the 12th Party Congress, the Party determined “to raise the comprehensive capacity and promote women’s life for the goal of gender equality, to create favorable conditions for women to develop talents; to research, supplement and perfect the law and policies for female labors, to create opportunities for women to perform their roles and responsibilities well in the family and society” (1). In terms of state policies, the legal status of Vietnamese women is prescribed in the 1946 Constitution: “Women are equal to men in all fields” (Article 9); “All Vietnamese citizens have equal rights in political, economic and cultural aspects” (Article 6) And “All citizens are equal before the law” (Article 7)... The 2006 Gender Equality Law defines: the State, society and families empower women to develop comprehensively and promote their role in the society. The law prohibits gender discrimination and identifies 8 areas that need focusing on gender equality: politics, economics, education and training, health, family, science and technology, culture information, physical training and sports. Of which, gender equality in politics (Article 11) includes: equality in participating in state management, social activities; in developing and implementing community conventions or regulations and rules of offices, organizations; in self-nominating deputies of the National Assembly, People’s Council, in leading agencies of political organizations, socio-political organizations, socio-political-professional organizations. Men and women are equal in terms of professional standards, ages when being promoted and assigned to same managing, leading positions of agencies and organizations.

In fact, gender equality realization is strongly grasped. In women empowerment alone, directive documents of central and local Party committees and branches stipulate the minimum rate and the “imperative” spirit of female participation in every organization of the political system. Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW of the Politburo has concretized the standard level of gender equality in politics such as: striving to reach at least 25% of female cadres taking part in all levels of executive committees by 2020, 35-40% of female members of the National Assembly and all levels of People’s Councils by 2020. Offices that have female rate of 30% and above shall imperatively have key female leaders. High level leading offices of the Party, the National Assembly, the State and the Government should have appropriate female rate according to gender equality objective. Female rate that attend political training courses and state administrative management courses should be ensured to reach at least 30%.

Over 10 years of implementing Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW, together with increasing awareness of women affairs and gender equality in all areas, efforts to achieve equality in politics in Vietnam have gained some positive results:

The consistent view points from the central echelon to ministries, committees, sectors, localities on target orientation to ensure female rate has brought opportunities for female cadres to hold leadership and management position of the political system. During implementation, apart from gender equality right protection, priority policies have been developed to encourage female cadres in their career. In arranging and assigning tasks, most localities take account of women’s strengths and health. In refresher training courses, female cadres (especially those who are raising babies) can state their aspirations, actively choose the time to attend training and have extra financial support.

Election results at local Party committees for the 2015-2020 tenure reflect the success in women affairs at grassroots level, with 19.07% of women which show an increase compared to the previous term (18.1%) and exceed the Central Party’s requirement (15%). Some localities gain a pretty much higher rate like Ho Chi Minh City (30.27%), Tra Vinh (28.52%), Binh Duong (27.1%), Thai Nguyen (24.86%), Lang Son (23.53%), and Da Nang (23.69%)(2). At the echelon directly above the grassroots level, although female Party committee members just reach 14.3%, it is 0.3% higher than that of the previous term and 25 Party committees of provinces and cities have higher rate than the average rate of 15% of which typically are Ho Chi Minh City (25%), Binh Duong (24%), Lang Son (21%), Bac Can (19,8%), and Tuyen Quang (19%) (3).

Election results of provincial Party committees show the participation of 466 women (13.3%) which increases by 1.9% compared to the previous term; 21 Party committees have 15% and above of female members (the previous term just had 10 Party committee reaching this rate). Provincial standing Party committees have 104 women (10.75% which is 2.9% higher than the beginning of the previous term), in which 7 Party committees have female rate above 15%(4). 18 out of 63 provincial Party committees have female deputy secretary, 4 out of 63 provincial Party committees have female secretary. In Central Party committees, there are 20 female members (account for 10%) of which 3 women are Politburo members (account for 15.8%).

Election results of People’s Councils at all levels of the 2016-2021 tenure compared to previous terms show an increase in female proportion, at commune levels: 26.59% (5.86% higher), at district levels: 27.5% (2.89% higher) at provincial levels: 26.56% (1.19% higher);

In the National Assembly, female percentage of the 11th term is 27.31%, the 12th term 25.76%, the 13th term 24.4% and the 14th term 26.7%. In the 14th National Assembly, Vietnam has its first female Chairperson. According to the United Nations, gender equality in Vietnam is a bright spot in achieving millennium goals. At present, women have imprinted their devotion in all fields. Although a great majority of the Party and State’s leadership and management bodies at all levels has higher male proportion, the quality, efficiency and prestige of female cadres have increasingly demonstrated their efforts as well as the role of all levels and branches during gender equality implementation process.

Beside the positive result, gender equality in many places and fields still has limits. “Gender gap and inequality still exist and mostly cause disadvatages for women (...). Performance results of female participation target in the management and leadership under the Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW dated April 27, 2007 of the Politburo haven’t achieved as planned and even showed a reduce trend”(5).

Five years ago, if the gender gap of students in colleges and universities was insignificant (49.03% female to 50.07% male, the difference is 1.04%), nowadays, when considering it in line with labor market, the female worker proportion (48.7%) has reduced in comparison with male (51.3%)(6).

In the election results of People’s Councils at all levels in the 2011-2016 tenure, there was only 31% of female candidates compared to 69% of male candidates, the difference is 37%. The election result makes a bigger gap when there is only 26% of women holding positions in People’s Councils at localities, the difference is 48% compared to men; of which only 3% is female presidents of People’s Councils, the difference is 94%. At Central level, currently there is only 24.4% of National Assembly female deputies compared to 75.6% of male, the difference is 51.2%; 9% of the Party Central Committee female members compared to 91% male members, the difference is 82%. In the elections of Party congress in the echelon directly above the grassroots level for the 2016-2020 tenure, the whole Party failed to achieve the target of “no less than 15%” female members.

Reasons for that situation are as follows:

In terms of the society, the thought of “male preference” is deeply rooted in the community, in the contingent of cadres and party members, both male and female, those who have the rights of evaluating and deciding female work, efforts of each female individual are not enough; pressures from the natural role of mothers and wives.

In terms of personnel affairs, the insufficient awareness and determination of Party committees lead to formative performance. Besides, there is no sanction to attach responsibilities of Party committees and their leaders to performance results of gender equality targets in personnel affairs. “Some Party committees and authorities haven’t had thorough awareness and sufficient attention and direction for this work”. Coordination among branches in implementing gender equality for women’s advancement hasn’t been close enough and lack of comprehensiveness. Inspection, examination and supervision of the implementation of the Party’s guidelines, policies, State laws on gender equality and women’s advancement are still limited”(7).

2. Recommendations

To bring genuine equality for women, some recommendations are as follows:

Firstly, continue to raise awareness and responsibility of the political system and the whole society on gender equality, especially in female personnel. Seriously evaluate based on scientific researches to point out fundamental and particular reasons of each local, level, branch and agency that lead to the unsuccessful performance of gender equality.

Secondly, implement equality principle between men and women in terms of age in planning, training, promotion and assignment. This is one of the missions and solutions stipulated in Resolution No. 11-NQ/TW. Previously, Gender Equality Law (2006) prescribed that “Men and women are equal in professional standards and age when being promoted and assigned to be managers and leaders of offices and organizations” (Article 11, Clause 4) but not yet implemented. The retirement regulation of women which is 5 years fewer than men has shortened woman age of promotion (no more than 50 years old for planning, training, promoting and assigning, meanwhile men have a higher age.) At present, the Central Party committee has stipulated an extension of working age (that means to continue holding management and leadership positions) for a very small amount of women who are deputy ministers and equivalent or higher, professors, associate professors, doctors who directly teach students at universities (but not hold any management and leadership title). This issue needs further research for further application. Besides, it is essential to adjust female retirement age equal to male in some certain occupations which women don’t necessarily retire before men.

Thirdly, focusing on training female cadres and ensuring true quality. Each committee member of Party bodies should be responsible to detect, evaluate and introduce female cadres for planning, which ensure female proportion in planning in line with female workforce rate and female Party members of offices and agencies. Training, educating, rotating and arranging personnel should also comply with the above proportion structure. In addition, there should have attention and priority policies to partially resolve difficulties and obstacles for female cadres in their striving process.    

In arranging, promoting, assigning and transferring cadres, attention should be paid to suitable female proportion. There should be female leaders in agencies and offices that have female ratio of 30% and higher. If there is no suitable local personnel, they can be moved from other places. During the transferring and rotating process, each personnel and the work description should be taken into consideration to make the best arrangement.  

Fourthly, raise positions and responsibilities of the Women’s Union, Women’s board of the Labor Union at all levels in building and protecting women’s rights. Party Committees at all levels should set up regulations and imperatively collect ideas of Women’s Union or Women’s board of the Labor Union in women - related personnel. Besides, these organizations should be created favorable conditions for innovation and quality improvement of activities and the caring, educating and protecting rights of women are effective.

Fifthly, promote the socio - economic development and raise incomes of cadres and civil servants so that women have conditions to develop comprehensively. The State should develop policies and organize public services to better serve people’s lives, helping women to reduce family burdens and focus their energy and intellect on work, contributing to gender equality efforts.

____________________

Endnotes:

(1) CPV: Document of the 12th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016, p. 163.

(2) www.vietnamplus.vn: “Grassroots Party Congress throughout the country has basically completed”. Vietnamplus, July 18, 2015.

(3) http://www.xaydungdang.org.vn: “From district Party committee congress and equivalent, well prepare for provincial Party committee congress”, Party Buiding Journal, September 8, 2015.

(4) http://www.xaydungdang.org.vn: “Election results of Party committees at Party Committee Congress under the Central, term 2015-2020”, Party Buiding Journal, September 8, 2015.

(5), (7) CPV: Notice No. 196-TB/TW dated March 16th, 2015 on the Conclusion of the Secretariat on the Project “Strengthening Party's leadership for gender equality and women advancement in new situation”.

(6) General Department of Statistics: 2012 Statistical Yearbook, Statistical Publishing House, Hanoi.

Dr. Truong Thi Bach Yen

Political Academy Region III

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