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Friday, 29 June 2018 15:11
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Women empowerment to be continued in the current political life in the Northwest of Vietnam

(LLCT) - The Northwest consists of 12 mountainous and midland provinces in the North and the western districts of Nghe An and Thanh Hoa, accounting for one third of the area of Vietnam. These provinces have a population of nearly 11 million, with 23 ethnic minority groups, representing 63% of the regional total population. This area is of strategic importance to the socio-economic development, security and national defense of Vietnam.

Given the attention of the Party and State, the Northwest has strongly transformed itself in the renewal, development and integration of the whole country. The material and spiritual life of the local residents has been improved considerably. This result is attributed to the special attention paid by the Party Committees, the authorities of the Northwestern provinces to the improvement of the position and role of women in the grassroots political system, economic development, and hunger eradication and poverty alleviation. These achievements have contributed to the successful implementation of the political, economic, social, security and defense tasks of the whole region.

The roles and contributions of women in the Northwest can be identified in the following contents:

Firstly, Northwestern women are the main force in removing barriers of psychology, prejudice, and social norms for their greater involvement and participation in the political system. All policies on gender equality as well as other social and cultural issues of the Northwest will not be realized if each and every woman is inactive, self-receptive, or understanding. They will have to be the pioneers in the abolition of outdated practices, overcoming social prejudices with self-reliance in the fight against discrimination, actively participating in political and social activities. Together with other members of the community, they have strived to build their family and village life in accordance with new progressive standards.

Regarding the Provincial People’s Councils in the 2016-2020 period only, the Northwest provinces have a high percentage of female delegates, specifically, in Yen Bai 43.1%, Dien Bien 30%, and Son La 34.7%. This shows that women are becoming more and more involved and have an important role in elected bodies. However, the percentage of ethnic minority women participating in the district and commune level political system remains low. Some ethnic minorities such as Cong, Mu, La Hu, SiLa have no female representatives. The lack of voice in the grassroots political system which is directly related to the rights, interests, aspirations and multi-faceted life of the local people will make it difficult to develop the great potential of women in the implementation of the economic, political, cultural and social objectives.

Secondly, women in the Northwest have actively participated in hunger eradication, economic development, stabilization and improvement of the livelihood of ethnic minorities. According to the Northwest Steering Committee, after more than 30 years of renovation, the Northwest has witnessed positive changes in material and spiritual lives. However, it still faces many difficulties. The percentage of disadvantaged districts accounts for 70% of the total districts, and the rate of poor households is three times higher than the national average(1).

With the daring spirit to break away from the backward, self-sufficient farming methods, women in the Northwest have borrowed capital to invest in production, and applied science and technology in farming and husbandry under the economic development models which appropriate to local conditions and climate, thus achieving positive results. The model of women’s savings - credit group is the most popular and has had positive impact on household economic development, contributing to hunger eradication and poverty reduction. The Women’s Unions of Phu Tho, Thanh Hoa, Bac Kan and Lang Son have supported many good models(2). In 2014, according to the Northwest Steering Committee, the regional economy continued to develop steadily, with the average GDP growth rate of 8.14%, excluding the western districts of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An provinces(3).

However, agricultural production in the Northwest is still based on traditional methods, relying on nature with cultivation, husbandry and handicrafts. The transition to commodity economy remains slow, and limited mainly to the commune and district with narrow scope. Therefore, it requires more women’s contribution and devotion to poverty reduction and economic development in the Northwest region, aiming to improve the living standards and the quality of life of the people. This creates a solid foundation for the stability of political and social life and the achievement of national defense and security objectives.

Thirdly, Northwest women play a pivotal role in preventing social evils, solving social problems, implementing social security, promoting empowerment, gender equality, creativity and preservation of cultural values imbued with national identity.

As a community of many ethnic groups, including Thai, Muong, Hmong, Dao, Kinh, Kho Mu and Ha Nhi, its traditional social system and life is diverse but there remain obsolete customs. The education and healthcare network has reached the villages, but the improvement of people’s knowledge, reproductive health care, maternal and child healthcare are still limited due to lack of infrastructure, doctors, and teachers. The obsolete customs in funeral, marriage, gender discrimination, early marriage, inbreeding, opium growing, drug addiction and trafficking, illegal religious proselytization, Vàng Chứ cult and other social evils still threaten the wholesome and stable life of the local people. These issues require due attention from many administrative levels, of which the most important element is the self-help efforts of the people, including women. They are both the object and the subject of the process of raising people’s intellectual standard, improving their race, building progressive and civilized villages.

In 2017, the Women’s Union of Yen Bai province has 147,992 members, who are participating in 3,050 groups and branches in all communes, wards, townships, villages and residential quarters in the province. The Union has brought into full play its roles in launching the campaign for criminal prevention and promoting the movement “All people protect national security”, contributing to repel social evils.

In 2015, the Women’s Union of Son La province held a contest to learn about the 2013 Constitution, attracting 3,852 writings of its members. It also organized communication activities for its officials and members on the prevention of crimes and social evils, and two training courses on law dissemination and education for rural and ethnic minority women.

Fourthly, women in Northwest have brought into play their role and position in the security and order movement, building the people’s defense posture. Given its strategically important geographical position, spreading over a large area of complex topography and sensitive location for national defense and security, the maintenance of security and order as well as national sovereignty must be closely linked to each family, village and each member of the community. From 2011 to 2014, the Northwest provinces organized 12,000 law dissemination and education sessions and mobilized people to participate in the movement to protect the homeland with over 1,490,000 participants. Hundreds of villages where complicated activities for “Mong State” building have been consolidated, and illegal religious proselytization, crimes, and drug trafficking checked(4). Communication sessions on legal education, dissemination of knowledge, awareness raising and consolidation of the grassroots political system have attracted a large number of women. The role of women in the organization, and in maintaining the stability and development of each family has exerted positive impacts on the sustainable development of the Northwest ethnic community. At the same time, it has actively while contributed to preserving political security, social order and safety, and the protection of national sovereignty.

In addition to the recorded achievements, women in the Northwest have not really had many opportunities to participate in the political system as well as failed to utilize their huge potentialities in the political life. The main reasons are as follows:

Firstly, it is due to the barriers of traditional social institutions in ethnic minority areas. The structure of the village is closed in accordance with the ethnic relations in which the village patriarch, village chief has a significant role and great prestige. The previous administration under lang dao or phia tao prevented women from participating in political activities. The remnants of that thought are still found in many localities. In addition, gender discrimination, gender inequality, and son preference have taken roots in the mindset of the people, thus women are obstructed in their study and participation in political activities and election to the leadership position at all levels.

Secondly, some agencies and leaders have not been properly aware of nor adopted suitable policies in recruiting and developing female cadres who are ethnic minority people. The work of introducing cadres in many localities remains insufficient. The payroll quotas assigned to the organizations in charge of ethnic affairs at provincial and district levels is limited. The planning, training and use of female cadres is not reasonable and does not create necessary conditions for them to improve their skills in all aspects. The finding, training and development of female cadres has not been good, so many ethnic minority women who have experience and capacity are not introduced. There are only a few opportunities for ethnic minority women to participate in political life and ethnic works. The trust of some leaders and management officials in women’s capacity is not high, especially the capacity of ethnic women, further reducing their opportunities for participation in the political system.

Thirdly, the Northwest women themselves are not able to escape the barriers and prejudices within themselves and society. They have to suffer many disadvantages. Some of them have insufficient schooling, or even none at all, let alone further training to improve their educational level. A sense of inferiority complex and limited knowledge has restricted women to housework, childbirth, and livelihood rather than social activities. Limited social interaction makes it difficult for women to access scientific knowledge, or to exchange experiences for economic development as well as family life stabilization.

In order to promote the role of women in the political life in the Northwest, a set of comprehensive, urgent and long-term solutions is needed. In the coming time, the following solutions should be focused on:

Firstly, hunger elimination and poverty alleviation should be accelerated, ensuring social security in an effective and practical manner. The preferential policies of credit, production support, electricity, health insurance, tuition fee exemption for ethnic minority children should be implemented synchronously and timely, contributing to reduce their financial burden. In addition, it is necessary to promote the industrial and sectoral restructuring in the direction of promoting the local advantages and resources in the construction of new rural areas. The communication, transportation and electricity networks in service of production and life should be improved, focusing on sustainable poverty reduction for people in the Northwestern region.

Secondly, the operation of the political system, especially at the grassroots, remote and disadvantaged areas should be actively strengthened and improved. The advantages of each locality should be exploited in combination with bringing into full play the inherent human resources, step by step stabilizing and raising the quality of grassroots political life. Awareness among Party committees, authorities, social and community organizations on gender equality and female cadre work should be raised, creating a favorable environment for women to actively participate in economic, political and community activities. External relations should be strengthened, borderlines of peace, friendship, development should be built, ensuring safety for border residents in integration, economic development and cultural exchange.

Thirdly, the task of ensuring political security, social order and safety should be stepped up. The work of fighting against crime, eliminating bad habits should be actively done.It is imperative to raise awareness of, detect and prevent acts of abusing the freedom of religious beliefs and religions to the detriment of the Party, State, and regime. We should also check actions of taking advantage of difficult situations and low educational level of people to incite or distort ethnic and religious policies, destroying the great national unity bloc. Women should be given favorable conditions to take the lead in building cultural life, maintaining wholesome cultural activities, preserving and promoting cultural identities of their ethnic groups. The fight against abolition of outdated and backward customs and traditions, and the contempt for the role of women in social work should be persistent.

Fourthly, due attention should be paid to the work of discovering, selecting, training, and development of female cadres, especially those from ethnic minorities.The training should be planned through each stage and age bracket in a scientific and systematic manner, taking into consideration the training subjects and the actual conditions of the locality. The development of female cadres must be closely linked with the economic, political, cultural and social development of the locality. The introduction of cadres for planning must be done step by step, following a roadmap, avoiding postponement and implementation in haste before each congress term. For ethnic minority areas with special difficulties and lack of cadres, including female ones, special incentive policies are needed.

In addition, the women themselves must strive their best for improving their educational and cultural knowledge, life skills, self-control to face pressure and overcome challenges. The development of education and training and raising the intellectual level of ethnic people in general and ethnic people in the Northwest in particular is the key to the empowerment of women.

The promotion of the role and status of women in the current political life of the Northwest must be considered as one of the most important political tasks, not only for women empowerment but also for stabilization of the economy, politics, culture and social security and defense in this strategically important region of Vietnam.


(1) https://baotintuc.vn

(2) https://baotintuc.vn

(3) https://baotintuc.vn

(4) https://beta.int


MA. Tran Ngoc Hang

Banking Academy


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