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Opening remark of Mrs. Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative at HeforShe Contest IWD 2017

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Event: HeforShe Contest IWD 2017

Venue: Museum of History, No.2 Trang Tien, Ha Noi

Date: 6 March 2017

Dear Friends, colleagues and ambassadors,

It's a great pleasure for me to welcome you today to our HeForShe event to celebrate the coming international women's day on 8 March.

This year, the theme of international women's day around the world is "Women's empowerment in the changing world of work". Just this last Friday, the UN organized a policy-focused event with the government looking at the trends in women's labour and employment in Viet Nam and discussed different measures that are needed to ensure that women in Viet Nam would have access to full and productive employment and decent work in this time or global integration and rapid technological change.

One issue that came up again and again during the discussions was the need to break the gender stereotypes, belief of male superiority and social expectations of a good wife and daughter that trap women into shouldering all the responsibilities at home to take care of the children, the husband, the elderly parents while also trying to bring income into the home.

This unwritten rule that house work and family care work is the natural responsibility of women deprive them of the right to pursue personal development, better and decent job opportunities and career advancement opportunities as well as time for leisure and personal wellbeing. It in fact also deprives the Vietnamese society from fully benefitting from the diverse talents of women. So, the question is, how can we change this so that women can feel empowered to fulfil their right to work?

Today we are going to be exploring this issue together with a number of men. For decades, IWD has been a celebration among women alone but if we think about it, gender equality is not just an issue for women but an issue that concerns men and their attitudes towards women.

With this conviction that we need to work more with men, male leaders and champions for gender equality as allies, UN Women launched HeForShe, as a solidarity platform for male gender advocates. In Viet Nam, we launched HeForShe for IWD 2015 and since then we have had many students, young people and celebrities embrace the movement on social media. A number of Ambassadors and Development partners have also joined our events, like the HeForShe MasterChef that we organized sometime ago.

Today we will be looking at housework and carework and the gender expectations around it. Through games, we are going to be exploring whether carework really has to be women's work. Do men care?

I am very grateful that we have a number of men who have kindly agreed to join from the government, the corporate sector, diplomatic community, celebrities, civil society group, youth to ethnic minority community.

I hope that their words and actions today will inspire more men to step up and show that they care about gender equality

And foremost, I hope you will enjoy these events.

Thank you.