Improve social protection and public services to increase women’s participation in the labor force

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Hanoi 7th March 2019 – In commemoration of International Women's Day, today, United Nations in Viet Nam and The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affair co-organized a policy dialogue on gender equality with the theme "Improve social protection and public services to increase women's participation in the labor force". The dialogue supports the theme of this year International Women's Day: "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change", which focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

With around 100 participants including leaders and officials from ministries, governmental agencies, representatives from more than 20 cities and provinces, socio-political organizations, the UN in Viet Nam, donors, as well as NGOs¬¬ and the media, the policy dialogue focused the discussions on existing legislations and policies and also innitiatives to increase women's participation in the labor force through social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

In the past years, Vietnam has greatly improved its legal framework as well as social protection and public services systems. However, women are still facing many challenges when social protection systems and public services have not yet met their needs. Beside all the risks which men also have to deal with such as diseases, unemployment, and aging, women have to face with a number of gender-specific issues, such as maternity, and unpaid care work. These risks are the main obstacles that hamper their efforts to participate in the labor market. A study done by Action Aid in Viet Nam with the participation of nearly 8,000 people in 2015 and 2016 showed that a woman in Ha Giang province can save 54 working days per year (nearly two months) if clean water is provided at their household. In Ho Chi Minh City, the study conducted by UN Women in 2016 finds out that the transportation public service is not well adapted to the safety needs of women and girls which has limited their mobility in access to job and other social economic activities.

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Mr. Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator to Viet Nam stated: "Social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure are critical for accelerating the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Investments in these three areas are critical to free up women's time, support their mobility, enhance their access to economic opportunities and strengthen their resilience to shocks."

At the policy dialogue today, participants gave recommendations and suggestions on promoting gender equality with the theme in Viet Nam, including: (1) promoting women's leadership and participation in policy dialogues related to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure; (2) investing in these areas to support the productivity and economic viability of women's work in the informal economy; (3) strengthening the data collection disaggregated by sex and on violence against women to inform suitable policies; (4) creating and strengthening gender responsive accountability mechanism, as such gender audit, in the evaluation of social protection, public services and infrastructure projects; (5) holding private providers accountable and encourage their participation in these areas.

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Outcomes of the policy dialogue will contribute to promoting policy recommendations to support women's active participation in the labor market, as well as contributing towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Discussed issues and recommendations at the policy event will be submitted for Viet Nam's report at the sixty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63), which will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 11 to 22 March 2019.

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