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Speech of Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative at the launch of HeForShe in Viet Nam

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Date: 6 March 2015

Event: Launching Ceremony of HeForShe in Viet Nam

Venue: Academy of Journalism and Communication, 36 Xuan Thuy,Cau Giay, Hanoi

  • Mr. Nguyen Phi Long, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and President of Viet Nam Youth Federation
  • Excellencies, Ambassadors;
  • Distinguished participants from the Government, research institutes and civil society;
  • Colleagues from the UN;
  • Dear students of the Academy of Journalism,
  • Ladies and gentlemen;

As the UN Resident Coordinatorhas said we are here today to mobilize a vast, far-reaching solidarity movementto involve everybody in the societyfor gender equality.

For decades, the women's movement has led the struggle for gender equality and great advances have been madein the rights and well-being of women and girls with regards tohealth, education, political participation, and income

Here is Viet Nam, gender parity has been achieved at the primary school level and we are almost there at the lower secondary level also.

Women are very economically active with about 73% of women in the labour force in Viet Nam, which means far more Vietnamese women have a job than most other countries around the world (the global average being 50%).

Dramatically less women also die in childbirth these days, thanks to improved access to services and information.

However, gender equality is yet to be achieved anywhere in the world, and the same is true in Viet Nam also.

We have heard in the video presentation about the sex ration at birth that is heavily and unnaturally skewed towards boys because of the greater social value given to boys.

If we look at the world of work, the average wage of female wage workers is 90% that of male workers.

This is partially because many women have to interrupt their careers for care responsibilities, and by law, have to retire earlier than men which impedes career prospects for professional women.

We still have a long way to go to achieve true equality.

So, today, we are calling on men and boys, in particular, to join the gender equality movement.

The time has come for all of us to work together to realize a shared vision of gender equality where both women and men, boys and girls, and all you students of this Academy, can maximize your potential and follow your aspirations, regardless of whether you are a woman or man.

For this, we need male champions that will support women's choices and speak up against inequality and any injustice against women.

After all, gender equality not only benefits women, but it benefits men and society as a whole.

We want you to become the champions of gender equality alongside the hundreds of thousands of men and boys, from Heads of States, musicians, athletes and celebrities, to university students and young school boys that have already pledged their support to HeForShe.

You may ask, what exactly is it that we want you to do. That is up to you.

In some places, male bands were inspired by HeForShe to write songs which they have posted on YouTube to spread the message about supporting equality of men and women.

In other places marathons and marches have been organized to draw attention to gender inequality issues.

We have also been told that a 15 year old boy wrote to a national newspaper condemning discrimination against women and girls.

At a different level, leaders of global corporations such as Unilever and Pricewaterhouse Cooper and Tupperware have pledged to create a more women friendly work environment and strive for more women in their management.

Your action can be anything in your sphere of influence.

As you are the students of this prestigious Academy of Journalism, you could, for example study the stereotyped media portrayal of men and women and talk to your professors and classmates about it, post questions on your Facebook about it, create videos that challenge gender stereotypes.

And eventually in the future, when you become the media leaders and leading journalists of this country we want you to be at the forefront for women's rights and equality of all.

Above all HeForShe is a personal commitment.

If we are to bring about change then it must start with you.

Here in Viet Nam you are involved right from the start of this excitingmovement.We thank you for joininghere today.

Together, each of YOU will make Viet Nam stand out in this global movement of solidarity.

Thank you