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First time UN Women engages Ministry of Defence for gender equality

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Lack of understanding and knowledge on substantive gender equality has limited women’s choice of profession, and promotion opportunity in the military. Photo: UN Women/Thao HoangLack of understanding and knowledge on substantive gender equality has limited women’s choice of profession, and promotion opportunity in the military. Photo: UN Women/Thao HoangCan Tho, 24 July 2015 – For the first time, UN Women organized a training on gender equality for leaders and officer of Viet Nam Ministry of Defence (MoD).

"Due to traditional gender stereotypes, gender equality seems only notionally accepted in Vietnamese society, especially in professions such as the military. Currently, Viet Nam has only two female major generals, who work in the commercial and medical sectors" said Mrs Nguyen Thi Phuong Hong, Operations Director of Population, Family and Children Committee, MoD.

Training on gender equality for leaders of MoD is now making headway in changing the situation for the better. As part of the shift, UN Women is supporting the MoD's Medical Department to organize the first training on gender equality for 160 leaders and officers working on population, family and children issues of the MoD in Can Tho province on 24 July. The training aimed to raise awareness and mainstream gender equality by sensitizing the trainees on their respective working areas.

UN Women’s first training on gender equality for leaders and officers of Ministry of Defense. Photo: UN Women/Thao HoangUN Women’s first training on gender equality for leaders and officers of Ministry of Defense.
Photo: UN Women/Thao Hoang
At the training, participants shared a lot of information on gender issues in military such as women are normally work in medical, communication and supporting positions and very few women represented in the top ranks, particularly in command and management positions.

Mrs Nguyen Thi Phuong Hong, one of the only two female colonels in the Medical Department, MoD stated that many men in the military think that "women should not do 'heavy and dangerous' works but 'easy and safe' ones".

Lack of understanding and knowledge on substantive gender equality has limited women's choice of profession, and promotion opportunity. In some military institutes, selection criteria are higher for women. Some female participants shared that with the same qualification, male candidate is normally selected for promotion as they think men are better in taking challenges and have better skills in military activities.

UN Women's training helped participants learned to identify gender stereotype and its influence to their life and the economy as well as how to challenge the issues in the MoD.

"When it comes to military effectiveness, gender perspective can have a lot of positive impacts. Women presence will help enhance working capabilities in the military operations." Mrs. Pham Thu Hien, Vice Director of Center for Women in Politics and Public Administration, Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, trainer of the training said.

"Mainstreaming gender equality also create better dialogue and understanding between the military and the local community not only in daily works but also in humanitarian situations" she added.

Colonel Duong Van Tham, chief of medical sector of the 9th military region, was one of a number of men who attended and saw the benefit of the training.

"The training provided us new knowledge. We now see gender perspective as a tool that will improve our operations. It will need time to change the situation in Viet Nam and in the Military, but we can learn and start from ourselves first by applying the lesson to our daily works and sharing knowledge to our colleagues" he said.

Colonel Duong Van Tham (left) and his colleagues support HeForShe Campaign. Photo: UN Women/Thao HoangColonel Duong Van Tham (left) and his colleagues support HeForShe Campaign.
Photo: UN Women/Thao Hoang

Colonel Tham and his male colleagues also committed to support HeForShe Campaign, a solidarity movement for gender equality of UN Women that engage men and boys in eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

As an effort to promoting gender equality in the military, UN Women will collaborate with Medical Department, Ministry of Defence to conduct a training for Vietnamese soldiers who will participate in the United Nations peacekeeping force. Vietnam first sent officials to take part in international peacekeeping missions of the United Nations in June 2014 and plans to send a sapper company and a second-level field hospital to South Sudan in 2015.

 

 

 

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