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“Equality for women means progress for all”

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Pratibha MehtaAs published in Phu Nu Viet Nam on 7 March 2014

Today, as we enjoy another International Women’s Day, I want to emphasize the importance of achieving equality for women and girls. This is not just because gender equality is a fundamental human right. Viet Nam will find it very difficult to make socio-economic progress without it. The evidence is clear.

Gender equality leads to better economic growth. Women’s leadership helps companies perform better. Parliaments with more women enact better legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.

Equality for women means progress for us all.

Next week, at the global level, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meets for its 58th session in New York.

It takes place as we intensify our efforts to achieve the MDGs, and formulate a new generation of sustainable development goals, and the post-2015 development agenda.

We are also approaching the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – an anniversary that urges us to fully meet the commitments made nearly 20 years ago.

Here in Viet Nam, Government and civil society partners are preparing to present the next report on progress made on the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination of Women before the CEDAW committee in July 2015.

Taken together, these events and activities present us with a once in a generation opportunity to position gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment at the heart of a sustainable development agenda.

But before we can look forward, we must also look back.

The MDGs have transformed the lives of literally hundreds of millions of people. They have lifted people out of poverty, improved education and health outcomes, and enhanced environmental sustainability.

By any standard, here in Viet Nam, progress has been remarkable. Most of the 2015 MDG targets have already met, and in some cases exceeded.

Viet Nam halved poverty between 1993 and 2002, and again by 2012. Living standards improved greatly and hunger dropped dramatically.

Having achieved the primary education goal, Viet Nam is already striving to achieve universal lower secondary education.

MDG targets on child health care are almost met. Maternal mortality has decreased.

Yet in spite of this success, challenges remain. Focusing on national averages has masked growing inequalities. In Viet Nam the gap is widening between rich and poor, particularly for ethnic minorities, migrant workers, and those in hard to reach areas.

Women, in particular, continue to face challenges in accessing health and education, and in achieving equal power, voice and rights.

The skewed male-to-female sex ratio at birth is just one example, averaging 112 boys born for every 100 girls in Viet Nam.

Women are less likely to access advanced education, and decent work that includes social protection. The wage gap between men and women is increasing. Women are less likely to own land and other assets.

Women are also under represented in decision making at all levels.

Women are at risk from domestic and other forms of violence. In 2010, a national survey revealed that six out of ten ever-married women had experienced some form of physical, sexual or emotional violence at some point time in their lives.

Only now is the true cost being calculated.

As we accelerate our actions to achieve the MDGs we must invest in gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment across all goals and priorities.

Any new generation of goals adopted in the post-2015 agenda must be transformative, universal, and rights-based, fully aligned with key international instruments such as CEDAW, with equality, including gender equality, at the core.

The new development agenda must also build stronger institutions, governance and accountability to deliver real change for women and girls.

So what should it seek to achieve?

Firstly, it must end violence against women. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are simply not possible if we don’t end violence and fear of violence – and if societies still consider gender-based violence to be acceptable.

Secondly, it must also expand women’s capabilities and access to and control over resources, so that they have full choice and options about how to live their lives.

Thirdly, it must ensure that women take full part in household, public and private decision-making. It's critical that women have an equal voice and participate in and influence the processes and institutions that shape public policies, and household and private sector decisions.

We stand at a critical point in time for women and girls. We cannot afford to lose any ground on gender equality and women’s rights.

Equality for women and girls is not just a dream. It is a duty of governments, the United Nations and everyone around us.

As the UN in Viet Nam, we remain fully committed to supporting the Government and its civil society partners in advancing the status of women and promoting gender equality.

As we strive to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development, equality for women means progress for all!



Harsh punishment for child offenders doesn’t prevent further criminality

The age at which a child, can be held criminally liable is a controversial issue around the world. Within Viet Nam, this issue is currently being grappled with in the Penal Code amendments. Some argue that a "get tough on crime" approach is necessary to punish children to prevent further criminality.

However, international research shows that because of their developmental stages, labelling and treating children as criminals at an early age can have serious negative impacts on their development and successful rehabilitation.


New Year Greetings from the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


On the occasion of New Year 2017, on behalf of the United Nations family in Viet Nam I wish to reiterate our appreciation and express our warmest wishes to our partners and friends throughout the country. We wish our partners and their families in Viet Nam peace, prosperity, good health and happiness in the coming year.

As we enter the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals era, we look forward to continuing our close cooperation for the sake of Viet Nam’s future development; one which is inclusive, equitable and sustainable, with no one left behind.

Youssouf Abdel-Jelil
United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. in Viet Nam


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for World AIDS Day, observed on 1 December


Thirty-five years since the emergence of AIDS, the international community can look back with some pride.  But we must also look ahead with resolve and commitment to reach our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

There has been real progress in tackling the disease. More people than ever are on treatment.  Since 2010, the number of children infected through mother to child transmission has dropped by half. Fewer people die of AIDS related causes each year.  And people living with HIV are living longer lives.

The number of people with access to life-saving medicines has doubled over the past five years, now topping 18 million. With the right investments, the world can get on the fast-track to achieve our target of 30 million people on treatment by 2030.  Access to HIV medicines to prevent mother to child transmission is now available to more than 75 per cent of those in need.


The secretary-general's message for the International Day to End Violence against Women and Girls


25 November 2016 - At long last, there is growing global recognition that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development.  Yet there is still much more we can and must do to turn this awareness into meaningful prevention and response.


UNIDO Director General's Op-Ed Article to media on the occasion of UNIDO's 50th anniversary


Did you know that in Viet Nam, the net flow of foreign direct investment increased from USD1billion in 2003 to USD10 billion in 2008, and that by 2015 reached USD23 billion?  Or that the total value of exports rose from USD2 billion in 1990 to USD72 billion in 2010, to reach USD162 billion in 2015? These impressive figures highlight the country’s robust economic success, providing a boost to the economy and employment.

These accomplishments are largely due to the reforms undertaken by Viet Nam since Doi Moi in 1986 which liberalized the economy, attracted foreign investment, fostered exports and reduced poverty. To prepare for reform, Viet Nam received extensive technical assistance from the international community, including from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), well before 1986 and, more precisely, since 1978.

For more than 35 years, UNIDO has been sharing international best practices to help Viet Nam develop inclusive and sustainable industry. With more than USD100 million in expenditure, UNIDO’s technical cooperation activities have been carried out across a broad range of fields, including support to the private sector and technical and industrial research organizations, facilitation of technology transfer, trade capacity-building, human resource development, environmental protection, energy efficiency, investment promotion and responsible business practices.