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Opening remarks for Ms. Shoko Ishikawa, UN Women Country Representative in Viet Nam at the Conference on Gender and Displacement: Evidence and Policy Implications

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Date: Thursday, 13 April 2017 from 8.30 am

Event: Conference on Gender and Displacement: Evidence and Policy Implications

Venue: Muong Thanh Luxury Quang Ninh Hotel, Block 1, Area 2, Bai Chay, Ha Long City

Mr. Nguyen Trong Dam, Vice Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs

Mr. Michel Welmond, Human Development Program Leader, the World Bank

Distinguished guests and colleagues,

It is my pleasure to be here this morning to welcome you to this conference jointly organized with Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the World Bank.

The impact of displacement and resettlement on people, whether caused by development or natural disaster, are not all the same. Resettlement could exacerbate pre-existing challenges and inequalities faced by those who are already in marginalized or difficult situation based on their gender, ethnic origin, socio-economic background, age or health status.

In 2015, States agreed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, consisting of universal, indivisible and rights-based 17 Sustainable Development Goals with a promise to "leave no one behind". Significantly, the new global agenda established a standalone goal on gender equality. Goal 5 on "Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls" aims at:

• Ending discrimination and violence against women and girls;

• Recognizing women's unpaid care and domestic work;

• Ensuring women's full and effective participation and leadership;

• Realizing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; and

• Ensuring women's rights to economic resources including access to ownership and control over land.

In addition, the targets in other goals cover a comprehensive set of issues, including the gender dimensions of poverty, housing, employment, water and sanitation, health, education, safety and peace and security.

All of these are very much linked to the topic of this conference as gender disparities that exist in society and the family tend to become worse in situations of displacement and resettlement. In a scenario in which the community suffers negative consequences of enforced change, women's position both outside the family and inside become even more precarious, including with respect to increased risk of facing violence.

While Viet Nam has significantly reduced poverty and made advances in many development indicators, its gains have not necessarily translated into the enhancement of human capacities for all or greater gender equality for all. Data show major challenges remaining in rural areas where nearly 90 per cent of the labour force, especially females, have no access to training. A large share of women farmers work as unpaid family workers which are the most vulnerable form of employment. Women in general have limited access to and control over land, resources, information and technology. In the family and community, men still play a leading role in making important decisions, and women bear disproportionate burden of unpaid care and domestic work.

To safeguard the rights and interests of people, particularly the more vulnerable and marginalized, all development induced displacement and resettlement should take a human-rights based and gender-responsive approach. This requires transparency and accountability to be in place before, during and after resettlement.

For transparency, we need data and information to be accessible. Individuals and communities must have access to appropriate data, documents and intellectual resources that impact upon their rights. Having access to appropriate data means being informed about the policies and plans for resettlement, compensation, availability of social services and economic resources as well as other factors that affect their rights. At the same time, it is crucial to collect data disaggregated by gender, age, ethnic or religious groups, minorities and household types to closely monitor their situation and take corrective measures when necessary.

In order to hold stakeholders accountable to the women that will be affected by development projects, we need greater participation and representation of women in local development planning and decision making. The responsibilities of respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights through development not only belongs to the government but also to the private sector that may be taking part in development projects, and development partners including the United Nations. In this context, civil society organizations formed by women and representing the interests of women play a crucial role in making development gender-responsive through closely monitoring development outcomes for women and girls and using evidence to hold duty-bearers to account.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The promise to "leave no one behind" under the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 can only be realized when all women and girls live a life free from discrimination and can enjoy the development outcomes on the same basis as men and boys.

Viet Nam has ratified many international treaties on human rights, and was in fact one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1982. The periodic review by the human rights treaty bodies provide critical guidance to accelerate Viet Nam's progress towards realizing gender equality and women's rights. For this, I would like to call your attention to the most recent Concluding Observations by the CEDAW Committee adopted in 2015 which expresses concern over negative effects of resettlement programmes in the context of development projects on rural women.

The endline of 2030 is approaching fast and it is time for us to step up our efforts to translate our commitments into real change for women.

For this, we can start by prioritizing investments in gender equality in all areas and all sectors, from rural development and agriculture to health, education, water and sanitation, social protection and infrastructure development. Every step of planning, decision-making, policy action, budgeting and monitoring must reflect the needs of women and men in their diversity and benefit all women and girls.

I hope this conference will serve as a platform to exchange knowledge, good practices and learnings from other countries and from within Viet Nam, so that at the end of the two-day conference, all of us will have a concrete set of recommendations to take away.

UN Women remains committed to contributing towards enhancing women's rights and gender equality in Viet Nam.

Xin Cam on.