Seminar: Women’s political participation and innovation in Viet Nam’s Development

October 19, 2022
UNDP Viet Nam

Mr Hoang Van Nghia, Director General of International Cooperation Department, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics;

Ms Luong Thu Hien, Director of Gender studies and Women’s leadership, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics;

Ms Nguyen Thi Hoai Linh, Head of International Cooperation Department, Vietnam Women’s Union;

Ms Khuat Thu Hong, Director of the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS);

Ms Ngo Thi Thu Ha, Director of Center for Education & Empowerment of Women (CEPEW);

Distinguished experts, partners, and colleagues

Good morning, Xin Chao!

I. Remarks:

On behalf of UNDP, it is my honour and great pleasure to welcome you all here today to this meaningful seminar on women’s political participation and innovation in Viet Nam’s development. The Seminar today is a result of shared among UNDP, government partners and local NGOs to place gender equality in public office squarely at the forefront of the country’s priorities. I am also grateful for the valuable opportunity to meet exemplary women leaders in this special week celebrating Vietnamese Women’s Day- a perfect occasion to reflect on the journey of women’s political participation and women-led innovations for Vietnam’s development. 

Dear distinguished guests,

We have come quite far in promoting gender equality in public office. In the 1920s, my own grandmother risked her life fighting for space in a male dominated arena where women were denied the vote, and told unequivocally that they should remain at home. Today, thanks to the sacrifices of many brave women and men, we see great examples of women succeeding in public office in almost every country. Despite these hard-won achievements, progress is slow. Women are still underrepresented in political and public life, and at the current rate, gender equality in the highest positions of power will not be achieved for another 130 years[1].

When it comes to women in public decision-making, Viet Nam has achieved commendable progress compared to other countries in the region.  According to the 2022 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, Vietnam scores 0.705 on a scale from 0 to 1 in terms of gender gap index, ranking 83 out of 146 countries, improving its position from 87 in 2021. Indeed, the results of last year’s election were very encouraging in terms of the increased number of women delegates to the National Assembly and provincial People’s Council. The percentage of women in the 15th National Assembly Plenum is now at 30.26 percent, which is higher than the previous term.  Similarly, higher amount of women representation in the People’s Council Offices at all levels was also observed.

Viet Nam has its own ambitious targets set by the Party by 2030, including 35  percent women’s representation in the National Assembly and People Councils at all levels and at least 20% to 25% of members of Party Committees at all levels. Despite these ambitious targets, women are not well represented in executive office or the higher echelons of power.

The decreased number of women’s representation in the 13th Party Congress and the 13th Politburo has shown that progress towards targets is not steady. During the last 10 years of implementation of the first National Gender Equality Strategy of Viet Nam 2011-2020, Objective 1 aimed at narrowing the gap in women’s participation in leadership and managerial positions in the political sphere was the sole objective which was not met[2].

Women’s participation at the local level faces even greater challenges.  According to UNDP PAPI findings over the last 2 years, women are particularly under-represented at the local level, particularly for village leadership positions. In 2019, of 812 villages surveyed, only 101 (accounting for 12 percent) had female leaders. The remaining 88 percent had male village leaders. The evidence from PAPI also strongly suggests that the additional bias against women holding village leadership positions is higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Distinguished guests,

We all know that women’s equal representation in political leadership is not only a matter of ensuring diversity and inclusion, but a precondition for truly inclusive and sustainable development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  We cannot realise any of our goals without women’s full and equal participation and leadership.

Looking ahead on the pathway to achieve newly agreed targets set out in the new Gender Equality Strategy 2021- 2030 and the resolution of the Party, we must redouble our efforts for gender equality in politics.

Women are increasingly seen as active agents of change- the dynamic promoters of social transformations that can alter the lives of everyone.  For that reason, UNDP’s approach is about empowering women as positive change agents in an inclusive public sphere by promoting their equal participation and representation at all levels. Beside tackling structural inequalities, we consider women as strategic partners whose active participation and ability in planning, design and implementation are essential to all of UNDP’s programming.

We have proudly worked with many partners who are here today including government, socio-political organizations, and local NGOs. At the seminar today, you will hear more about our joint efforts to tackle deeply rooted social norms and beliefs against women leaders as well as ways to strengthen leadership capacities that are key to promote future female leadership.  

I hope after the Seminar, we would understand better the underlying causes of women’s under-representation in politics as well as hearing ideas about new initiatives to address the existing gender gap and identify a clear roadmap to achieve all national targets.  Viet Nam has only 3 more years to reach the target of 60% of the state agncies and local governments having key female leaders by 2025. By 2030, in only 7 more years, Viet Nam is due to achieve 75% of the state agencies and local governments having key female leaders and 35% of people representatives are women.

Women’s participation in decision-making is even more critical as the country is faced with an unprecedented level of complex challenges, such as the increase in severity and frequency of climate change impacts. This calls for the formulation of climate policies that take a ‘whole of society’ approach and are truly inclusive of the voices of the people affected.

Women have been more often considered ‘’victims’’ of climate impacts due to underlying inequalities and less so as positive change-makers; however, they have been making crucial contributions to climate action.  Indeed, women have the capacity to act and recover from shock and disasters, and the extent of their resilience will similarly depend on the social, economic and governance capacity and structures at different levels.  

Against this background, we are proud to announce today the launch of our first-ever podcast ‘Descendants of Hai Ba Trung’, featuring voices from the frontline of the climate crisis. Carefully curated, each episode showcases the journey of women from all backgrounds sharing their experiences in mobilizing their communities and taking action in the field of agriculture, disaster risk reduction, circular economy etc; to adapt and mitigate climate change. We encourage you to share this inspiring podcast with your network and join hands with us in ensuring that women’s voices are not ‘left behind’ but rather heard at all levels.

In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to all of our partners here today, who have closely collaborated with us in promoting women’s political participation and women-led innovation. I thank you for your commitment and your efforts. Viet Nams’ history offers us many examples of inspiring women leaders who demonstrated their excellent leadership, resilience, and perseverance such as the Trung sisters and Lady Trieu. We can choose to highlight a different narrative of Vietnamese women outside the traditional domestic or household roles. I genuinely believe that Viet Nam has the ability to lead the women´s political participation and innovation agenda in the region and all of you at the Seminar today will contribute to push the agenda forward.

Xin cam on and wishing you all a wonderful Vietnamese Women’s Day ahead!


[2] Government of Viet Nam. 2020. Review Report on Implementation of the National Gender Equality Strategy (NSGE) Period 2011-2020