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Speech of United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i, Mr. Bruce Campbell in the Closing ceremony for the Joint Programme on Gender Equality

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Date: Monday 19 March 2012
Event: Closing ceremony for the Joint Programme on Gender Equality
Location: Melia Hotel, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet street, Ha Noi

  • gender equality speech 190312Your Excellency Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hoa, Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs,
  • Your Excellency Mr. Fernando Curcio Ruigomez, Spanish Ambassador to Viet Nam,
  • Excellencies Ambassadors,
  • Representatives of donor agencies, media representatives and civil society organizations,
  • My fellow UN colleagues,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,


On behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam, I would like to express my pleasure to be here today for this closing ceremony of the Joint Programme on Gender Equality. Launched on this auspicious day, exactly three years ago, on 19 March 2009, the programme has been an excellent example of joint efforts. We in the UN Country Team highly appreciate the strong involvement and support of the Government of Viet Nam and  many other committed partners in this Joint Programme.  

The Joint Programme on Gender Equality has made great accomplishments. This is in large part due to the commitment and efforts from our three implementing partners: the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs; the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism; and the General Statistics Office. Many other partners have also played a key role, including other line ministries, key National Assembly Committees, the National Committee for the Advancement of Women, civil society groups such as the Gender and Community Network and mass organizations such as the Viet Nam Women’s Union.

It has also been our privilege to work jointly with the Spanish Government through the MDG Achievement Fund, which provided the funding for the Joint Programme. Spain has demonstrated a very strong commitment to both gender equality and to the One UN Initiative, not only here in Viet Nam but around the world. We are very fortunate indeed to have such generous, engaged and patient support.

With 12 UN agencies working in partnership with the Government of Viet Nam and the Government of Spain, we were able to form a critical mass and speak with one voice. Working together, we were better placed to bring about change at the highest level, promoting gender equality for making a real difference in the lives of women and men, girls and boys throughout the country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Government of Viet Nam for its strong commitment and many efforts to promote gender equality and women's empowerment. Just as Viet Nam has made impressive achievements in social and economic development, remarkable progress has also been made in addressing gender disparities in education, employment and health. Gender gaps in primary, secondary and tertiary schooling have been reversed or even closed. The 2009 female labour participation rate was high at 72.3 per cent, though the rate for men was higher at 81 per cent. Improvements in maternal, child and infant mortality are also remarkable.

Looking beyond this impressive data, it is clear that there are still important gender differences hindering many women, men, girls and boys in Viet Nam from reaping the full benefits of economic and social development and harnessing their fullest individual potential. Traditional gender stereotypes and roles continue to place a heavy burden on women Many more women than men are also working as unpaid family workers without sufficient access to social protection. In the area of representation, women are also at a disadvantage with women’s representation in management and leadership positions continuing to be limited.

Furthermore, gender-based violence continues to be a serious issue in Viet Nam. According to the 2010 national study on domestic violence conducted by GSO, within the framework of the Joint Programme on Gender Equality, one in three, or 32 per cent, of ever-married women report that they have suffered physical violence from their husbands at some time in their lives. There are also incidences of trafficking in men as well as women that require further attention.

Distinguished guests,

More than five years have passed since the passing of the Law on Gender Equality and the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control, and over the last three years of the Joint Programme on Gender Equality, we are pleased to see that awareness and understanding of the two laws has increased among officials from state management agencies, line ministries and mass organizations.  Knowledge on ways to implement, monitor, evaluate and report on these two laws has also improved. Furthermore, the capacity of officials to mainstream gender into their work has been strengthened. In addition, increased data on gender is now available from the population and housing census, various research initiatives, as well as engendering data collection instruments such as the Labour Force Survey. The recent launch of gender statistical products, supported under the Joint Programme, reinforces the importance of quality sex disaggregated data to inform more effective policy and programming.

Finally, partnership among the Government, mass organizations, donors, the UN, and civil society organizations to promote gender equality and address gender-based violence has been strengthened through the revitalization and operation of the Gender Action Partnership group.

These positive achievements need to be sustained and further applied to the provincial and community levels so that all women and men, whether from urban or rural areas, or from majority or minority ethnic groups, can enjoy life under the same conditions of equality and non-discrimination.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is no doubt in my mind that the work done through the Joint Programme has created a strong foundation for us to continue our work to promote gender equality. For the UN, gender equality is a key priority and our One Plan for 2012-2016 recognizes this. Over the next five years, the UN will invest around 40 million USD in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment – double of what we spent between 2006 and 2011. Our support will focus on effectively combating gender-based violence; addressing the rapidly rising imbalanced sex-ratio at birth resulting from son preference; empowering Vietnamese women leaders; and creating decent and secure employment opportunities for women and men. Fully recognizing the continuing global economic turbulence and the threat of climate change, we will also support women and men in Viet Nam to better understand and prepare for the impact of shocks such as high inflation and natural disasters.  As dominant male attitudes and behaviors underpin and reinforce gender inequality, we must do more to engage men and boys in violence prevention and promote a gender equitable society.

All of us, including the Government and the UN, but also the media, have an important role to play. The goal of achieving gender equality needs to be pursued in a coherent, integrated and mutually supportive manner as demonstrated in the Joint Programme on Gender Equality. United, let’s keep up the work to improve women’s and men’s lives.

I am confident that by consolidating our efforts, and by working together, we will form a critical mass to support effective implementation of the key laws, policies, strategies and programmes on gender equality and promote the changes that are needed at all levels. We are on a shared journey to realize our goal of gender equality, and if we truly work together and remain focused, I have no doubt that we will be successful.  

Thank you very much for your attention and participation. I would like to wish all of you good health, happiness and success.

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