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Speech by Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative at the launch of Ready for Success eLearning course for potential women candidates

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Date: 18 September 2015
Event: Launch of Ready for Success eLearning course for potential women candidates
Venue: Fortuna Hotel, 6B Lang Ha Street, Hanoi

Honourable Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa, National Assembly member and President of the Vietnam Women’s Union;
Honourable Trương Thị Mai, Chair of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs and Chair of the Women’s Caucus;
Mr. Hoàng Xuân Lương, Vice Minister of Committee of Ethnic Minority Affairs;
Mr. Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, Assistant to Minister, Director General of Personnel Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
Mr. Vũ Dương Châu, Director General of Ethnic Minority Committee, Viet Nam Fatherland Front;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

This year we have much cause for celebration. It is 70 years since the creation of the United Nations, 70 years since Viet Nam’s declaration of independence, and 85 years since the creation of the Viet Nam Women’s Union. As we celebrate these anniversaries, we recall that all three have had an unwavering commitment to gender equality.

Today is a very special occasion as through this eLearning course we reaffirm this commitment to the advancement of women’s leadership and to ensuring women’s full and equal representation in decision making at all levels.  

Exactly a year ago, I participated in a high-level meeting with Madame Phong and Madame Mai of the National Assembly, Madame Hoa of Women’s Union, Madame Chuyen of MOLISA and Mr. Kim of Fatherland Front, where we all committed to taking the necessary actions to increase the representation of women in elected office in 2016.  The United Nations remains ready to support Viet Nam in advancing gender equality as an internationally agreed development goal and as a national commitment to action, as expressed in the National Gender Equality Strategy.

There is greater awareness that Viet Nam needs to make all efforts to increase women in political representation to ensure equality but also because women’s voice in policy, legislation and reform is extremely important. UNDP research shows that women delegates contribute as much to National Assembly debates as their male counterparts, and not just on gender issues. This debunks the incorrect assumption held by many that women may not be as effective in political spheres as men.

In the Party Resolution 11 as well as the National Strategy on Gender Equality, a target of a minimum of 35% women’s representation in elected bodies by 2016 has been set. The newly developed Law on Elections has reinforced this commitment by establishing a gender quota for the percentage of women candidates. Initiatives such as the Ready for Success eLearning course will help empower women to achieve their right to political participation and meet the national targets.
As we saw in the excellent theatre performance, women face many barriers to political participation.  A UNDP study looking at women’s experience in the 2011 election found that few women had access to training. Though demand is high, it is largely only the Women’s Union who provided training. Women are also extremely busy juggling several responsibilities, and many live in remote areas and do not have the means to access training opportunities. The research also showed that while successful delegates highly appreciated the training they received prior to elections, they stressed the need to hold the training much earlier so they could better prepare, network and understand the candidate nomination process.  

That is why UNDP, with our government partners, has developed a simple way to reach out to women to help them become better informed of the candidate nomination process and to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to become a successful candidate in contesting elections. In the past, face-to-face trainings have been the conventional approach to build capacity but we now recognize there are more efficient and gender sensitive ways to do this.

To fully prepare potential women for the upcoming National Assembly and People’s Council elections in 2016, capacity building efforts are needed and it is not physically possible to train all the women candidates throughout the country in face-to-face sessions.  With the use of technology however, this mission is possible.

eLearning is a novel capacity building approach that has the potential to take off in Viet Nam.  I have often heard from women that they do not want to be away from their office or family to attend long training courses, they do not have the funds to take the courses, or that they are sometimes not nominated to participate in training.  eLearning breaks down these barriers and increases accessibility.  The playing field has been levelled, its time to get out and play.

The course is available in many formats. It can be directly viewed online, downloaded to complete offline, or can be provided on a memory stick. It can be done on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone so women can learn wherever they are, whenever they have some free time. Those that complete the course will receive a certificate that documents their efforts. It is released for use by anyone, free of charge.  
No restriction; No nominations; No charges - No excuses!

Let me take this opportunity to raise here the importance of this initiative and how it is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals that will be adopted in the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York next week. The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of development targets that follow on from the Millennium Development Goals which expire at the end of 2015. They are an ambitious and broad reaching set of goals to be reached by 2030.    

Goal number 4 calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all while goal number 5 demands gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. This Ready for Success eLearning course, using new technologies to empower women to have full and effective participation in leadership, supports Viet Nam in its journey towards these goals.

Our vision is to have women in every corner of Viet Nam participating and gaining from this course. I encourage you all to register for Ready for Success and to broadly promote this very useful course with your colleagues, friends and family. We must guarantee that women’s voices are heard and greater representation is achieved for the benefit of all.

Together we can ensure that women are ready. Ready for Success!
I wish all of you good health, happiness and success.
Xin cam on!