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Speech Of United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Pratibha Mehta at the Consultation Forum on CEDAW Implementation in Viet Nam

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Date:  Friday, 30 March, 2012 at 8.30 am
Event: Consultation Forum on CEDAW Implementation in Viet Nam
Venue: Sheraton Hotel, K5 Nghi Tàm, 11 Xuân Dieu, Tay Ho, Ha Noi 


H.E Mr. Pham Minh Huan, Vice-Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs;
Distinguished participants from Government, development and civil society partners;
Colleagues from the UN;
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honored to be with you this morning at the Consultation Forum on the implementation of the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Viet Nam. And I am particularly delighted to welcome CEDAW Committee Member Ms. Navamanee Rattna Patten, who will share experiences of CEDAW implementation from other countries in the region and in the world.  

Promoting and protecting  universal human rights has been one of the fundamental goals of the United Nations since its creation, and the development of a comprehensive international human rights normative and standard-setting system within the United Nations was one of the great achievements of the 20th Century.

CEDAW is a universal international human rights treaty. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 1979 and celebrated 30 years of existence in 2009.  
As of last month 187 countries have ratified CEDAW, reflecting the global consensus and commitment of States to take concrete measures to achieve gender equality and to eliminate discrimination in all its forms.  

Viet Nam signed CEDAW in 1980 and endorsed it in 1982 . Since then the Vietnamese government has reported to the CEDAW Committee several times, most recently in 2005 when Viet Nam submitted reports five and six. The Concluding Comments from the 2007 CEDAW Committee meeting have been actively taken on board by the Government of Viet Nam, including through the development of the National Strategy for Gender Equality 2011-2020 and the National  Programme for Gender Equality 2011-2015.

Over the past five years, Viet Nam has been one of seven countries in the region involved in implementing UN Women’s CEDAW South East Asian Programme, which is funded by CIDA. The Programme phase II (2012 – 2015) aims to:

  • increase awareness of women’s human rights and deepen understanding of CEDAW among state organizations and civil society groups;
  • strengthen capacity of governments and civil society to promote women’s human rights at the national and regional level;
  • contribute to increased national commitment to CEDAW implementation by popularizing CEDAW; and
  • help to develop women’ s knowledge and capacity to claim their equal rights.

The CEDAW programme aims to integrate a human rights-based approach, by addressing capacity gaps among both duty bearers and rights holders to promote and protect the human rights of women. Supporting women's NGOs to develop networks to promote women's human rights as well as to prepare shadow reports to the CEDAW Committee is a prominent feature of the programme.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Although considerable progress has been made towards implementing CEDAW, significant challenges remain. High incidence of domestic violence, and sex-based discrimination in law and practice persists and specific groups of women regularly confront inequalities, such as unequal retirement age. Viet Nam has a high and rising sex ratio at birth, at 110.6 male to 100 female births. Women continue to be paid less than men and are concentrated in the informal economy, largely as unpaid family laborers. Women’s participation in decision making positions and in public affairs falls short of Government targets and CEDAW Committee recommendations, and representation is generally skewed towards urban areas and the Kinh majority.

Thus, a lot more remains to be done to address gender inequality and effectively implement and reinforce existing laws and policies. I am therefore very pleased that we will launch a joint UN paper on retirement age today to help raise awareness and strengthen political support to address this instance of formal inequality. Unequal retirement age has been identified as a specific issue under the CEDAW indicator framework and I am delighted to have Ms Patten with us today to comment on this particular issue.  

I am also very pleased to mention that the CEDAW programme will continue under the new UN One Plan 2012-2016 which was signed by the UN and the Government on 27th March.  Over the next five years the CEDAW programme will focus on capacity building of government agencies, as duty bearers, to address gender equality issues and of civil society organizations, as claim holders, for government accountability.

On behalf of the UN Country Team, I would like to reconfirm our commitment to support the Government to end all kinds of discrimination against women, in line with CEDAW’s principles and the 2007 Concluding Comments for Viet Nam. The United Nations in Viet Nam welcomes the Government’s leadership in this area. We will continue to work, in close partnership with the Government and CSOs, to advance the status of women and promote gender equality.  We stand ready to support the Government and civil society organizations in the lead up to submitting the next CEDAW report in October 2012.  

I would like to close by thanking the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs for your support in making this Consultation Forum possible. I would also like to thank all the participants for joining us today. I look forward to your active participation and to hearing the outcomes of today’s discussion.      

I wish all of you good health, happiness and success.

Xin Cam On.