Launching Ceremony Viet Nam Women’s Union’s theme of the year – “Safety for women and children 2019”

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Event: Launching Ceremony Viet Nam Women's Union's theme of the year – "Safety for women and children 2019"

Venue: Ly Thai To Square, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Date: March 6, 2019

A very good morning to all of you. Xin chao!

It is my great pleasure to join you today, on behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam, for the National Launch of the Viet Nam Women's Union's theme of the year – Safety for women and children 2019. We commend both the Government of Viet Nam, and the Viet Nam Women's Union for recognizing the importance of the safety for women and children in Viet Nam. As we all know, this is not only an issue for women and girls, but equally for men and boys, and for society at large.

This year, the global theme for International Women's Day is: "Think equal, build smart, innovate for change". The theme invites us to focus on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the equal power of women in shaping the national policy agenda, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure. This includes, for example, addressing the needs and priorities of women in the informal sector, ensuring their access to healthcare services, protection by the justice system as well as securing public spaces and transportation that are free from sexual harassment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We know that equal power relations between women and men in all aspects of societal interaction is an essential precondition for equitable development.

Despite significant improvement in the socio-economic situation of women, gender-based discrimination and violence against women and children, especially girls, remains the most pervasive violation of human rights in the world. It is also one of the least prosecuted crimes. Here in Viet Nam, data and evidence shows that many women and children are unsafe at home, at schools, at workplaces, as well as in public spaces.

As you are all aware, the UN in Viet Nam is here to assist the Government of Viet Nam to achieve Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mainstreaming gender equality in everything we do will be essential if the SDGs are to be attained. In this context and within the framework of the One Strategic Plan 2017-2021 between the Government of Viet Nam and the United Nations which is our overarching development cooperation framework for the country till 2021, we have made addressing all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls one of our top priorities in support of Viet Nam's implementation of the SDGs.

Returning to the broader theme of this event, allow me to highlight 5 key areas through which the UN in Viet Nam can join forces with the Government, the Viet Nam Women's Union, other national stakeholders, and most importantly grass-roots voices across the country to ensure the safety of women and children:

First, to address the root causes of gender inequality, discrimination and violence through the promotion of public awareness, thereby developing a culture of respect and equality among all genders in all contexts: at home, at schools, at workplaces and in public spaces. Prevention initiatives focusing on girls and boys in schools can effectively help change attitudes and behaviors that undervalue women and girls and legitimize gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

Second, in the provision of reliable and meaningful data on violence against women and children, both in the public and private spheres, to allow for the design of evidence-based legislation, policy priorities and an improved justice system, as well as to enable effective monitoring and evaluation.

Third, to advocate and promote the leadership and full participation of women and women's organizations as well as the integration of gender equality perspectives in all areas of policy and decision making.

Fourth, to strengthen multi-sectoral services for women and children survivors of violence through improved coordination of essential services based on globally agreed standards in order to ensure their immediate safety and access to justice, in addition to the provision of healthcare services and social protection for women and children subjected to violence.

Fifth, to strengthen partnerships with development partners, civil society and the private sector as well as local grass-roots social networks for the promotion of gender equality.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The spirit of "Leaving no one behind" to achieve Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals requires that all women and children in Viet Nam feel safe, have high self-esteem, are empowered and that power is equitably distributed between all genders. A campaign alone cannot fulfil this aspiration, but it can trigger and promote important policy actions for lasting change in this direction. The United Nations is ready to work with the Government, the Viet Nam Women's Union and all Vietnamese citizens in this joint effort.

Xin Cảm Ơn!