International Women's Day 2012: Empowering Rural Women and Girls; Ending Hunger and Poverty

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8 3 pol dialogHA NOI, 7 March 2012 - The United Nations (UN) in Viet Nam, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and the National Committee for the Advancement of Women in Viet Nam (NCFAW) organized today in Ha Noi a policy dialogue on gender equality to commemorate International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day recognizes the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world. The theme this year is based on the theme of the 56th Commission on the Status of Women: “The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication”.

The policy dialogue brought together 200 participants, including policy makers and national experts from MOLISA; the Ministry of Planning and Investment; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism; the NCFAW; the Viet Nam Women’s Union; UN agencies in Viet Nam; the World Bank; bilateral and other multilateral donors, as well as NGOs and the media.

Speaking at the event Ms. Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, Minister of MOLISA and Chairwoman of the NCFAW, affirmed the government's commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment through the implementation of related gender equality policies and programmes. Despite the fact that rural women contribute much to agricultural production and domestic food processing, people's awareness of women's roles and gender equality is still limited. Women and girls in rural, ethnic, mountainous and remote areas are particularly disadvantaged, compared to men and urban women, in equal access to education, job opportunities, information and good living standards.

"Ensuring equal access to basic services for rural women is one of the critical strategies to eradicate poverty and pave the way towards sustainable development," said the Minister.

Ms. Pratibha Mehta, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, highlighted the UN’s continued support to gender equality and women’s empowerment issues in Viet Nam. She also stressed the need for enforcement of existing laws and policies.

Viet Nam has an impressive policy and legal framework in place on issues of gender equality and women's empowerment. It is now time for action and enforcement of these policies, laws and strategies, particularly at the sub-national level,” Ms Mehta said.

During the dialogue, Ms. Nguyen Thi Lan Huong, Director of the Institute for Labour, Science and Social Affairs, MOLISA, shared information on key challenges facing rural women and proposed solutions to help them overcome these. The Viet Nam Women’s Union presented key activities and interventions at the grassroot level that have been successful in supporting rural women and renewed their support for ensuring the rights, benefits and access to economic opportunities for rural women in Viet Nam.

In addition, key findings from recent research supported by the UN in the areas of masculinities and gender-based violence; gender-related obstacles to Vietnamese women entrepreneurs; and gender equality in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction were presented.

In addition to the policy dialogue, the UN, the Embassies of Canada, New Zealand, Greece and Brazil, and the World Bank will be hosting an evening reception on Thursday 8 March at the Women's Museum.

On International Women's Day, MOLISA, NCFAW and the UN remain committed to working together to support the effective implementation of the new National Strategy for Gender Equality (2011-2020) and the National Programme on Gender Equality (2011-2015) and ensuring that rural women and girls are prioritized in policies and programmes in the coming years.

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