The Latest VOA Special English
Archive of VOA Special English
Men Still Have an Edge in Vietnam’s Gender-Equal System

2019-4-27

If a basic value of communism is equality, then men and women in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam would appear to have reached it.

Women is this country of 100 million people run big companies, lead government ministries and fill jobs usually held by men around the world, like building industry laborers or police officers.

A great deal of data shows that Vietnam is ahead of most other countries in gender equality. But in reality men still have a lot of advantages.

An employment services business, Adecco Vietnam, says the average income of women in the country is $224 a month. It says that represents 81% of the average income of men.

But women also do unpaid labor. When the workday ends, Vietnamese women have an average of five hours of work at home. They clean or take care of sick relatives.

“Every day has just 24 hours, to be divided among work, family, and oneself,” said Nguyen Hong Phuong. She is the director of finance at Adecco Vietnam. “It will not always be divided evenly.”

Men’s advantages begin at birth. Most parents want a boy and not a girl. During childhood, boys are not expected to help with housework. This continues when they become men. Mothers are replaced by wives where housework is concerned. Men still rule the home.

Women sell vegetables at a market in Hanoi, Vietnam January 31, 2018. (REUTERS/Kham)
Women sell vegetables at a market in Hanoi, Vietnam January 31, 2018. (REUTERS/Kham)

Adecco Vietnam says 73.9 percent of men have employment with foreign-invested companies, but only 67.7 percent of women. It says that during job interviews, women are often asked about their plans to have children and if they would leave work for family. A recent study from the United States Agency for International Development says a major goal of working women in Vietnam is to find an employer that has a reasonable parental leave policy.

As in so many countries, women in Vietnam experience poverty and the repercussions of natural disasters. The Vietnamese government has established programs to help women, such as Technologies for Equality. It is a competition run by the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship supported by Australia and Ireland, among others.

The competition seeks inventions that can improve the lives of women in the countryside. Winning entries can receive up to $7,000.

The mobile app Safe Journey is among the inventions in the competition. The app helps migrant workers, mostly women, find jobs and housing in Vietnam’s cities. Another entry is for a processing center where ethnic minority tea farmers can process their crops for higher value-added products.

The winners will be announced later this month.

At an event to launch the competition, the Vietnamese Vice Minister of Science and Technology said the goal was to get women and girls from the countryside to do well in the employment market.

Vietnam has had a lot of success with gender equality. Almost 71 percent of women work. Women make up 25 percent of company leaders. Rates of sex-based violence are very low.

However, as good as it is, Vietnam still has work to do to reach complete gender equality.

I’m Susan Shand.

VOA’s Ha Nguyen reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

_______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

data – n. facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something

gender – n. the state of being male or female

advantage – n. a good or desirable quality or feature

app – n. a computer program that performs a special function