Gender Equality

Window of opportunity for Viet Nam to improve gender equality at work

Viet Nam has a lot of opportunity to address gender equality at workplaces, which helps industrial relations, but more efforts are needed in this area.

Press release | 24 September 2013

HANOI – Viet Nam has a widow of opportunity to address gender equality at work and support sound industrial relations but more efforts are needed, as highlighted by a workshop on the implementation of the revised Labour Code and the new Trade Union Law organized jointly by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The workshop brought together ministry officials, employers’ and workers’ organizations, business associations, trade unions and NGOs.

Effective since May of this year, the revised Labour Code has introduced many positive developments regarding gender equality at work, such as the prohibition of sexual harassment in the workplace, the recognition of domestic workers and the inclusion of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. It also brought its share of specific provisions aiming at addressing women workers’ specific needs, especially related to maternity protection with, for example, the extension of maternity leave from 4 to 6 months.

“The recent revisions of the Labour Code and the Trade Union Law demonstrate the country’s efforts in fulfilling its international obligations and meet the standards required to create a gender-empowering work environment in the country” said UN Women Vietnam Country Representative, Shoko Ishikawa,

“But despite a clearer position in favour of gender equality in the Labour Code, women face specific obstacles and challenges based on gender stereotypes, sometimes deeply rooted into popular culture and traditions”, Ms Ishikawa added.

Vice Chairman of the VCCI, Pham Gia Tuc, also applauded the revised Labour Code but underlined that the implementation of the law would not be without challenges.

“Firms with a large number of female workers have to bear higher production cost, thus they prefer hiring young and already-trained workers to save time, cost and fill vacancies when needed,” Mr Tuc said.

While recognizing the challenges ILO Viet Nam Country Director Gyorgy Sziraczki pointed out that “promoting gender equality should not be regarded as solely cost to businesses but rather as an investment that pays off in the medium-term”. Employers who hire, retain and train women workers benefit from a larger pool of talent resulting in increased productivity and competitiveness, Mr Sziraczki added.

Improving the participation and voice of women in organizations representing workers’ interest, and in governance and decision making processes, and encouraging public institutions, especially government ministries and agencies, to become “model employers” in terms of practicing gender equality in their operation are equally important, Mr Sziraczki said.


Official statistics show that about 72 per cent of women are part of the labour force in Viet Nam, which means that a lot more Vietnamese women have a job than in most developing countries around the globe.

However, they are still behind men in many areas such as pay and access to training and advancement. Moreover, the vast majority of women work in the informal economy which is insecure, vulnerable, and beyond the scope of the Labour Code.



For more information, please contact:

ILO Country Office for Viet Nam
48-50 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi, Viet Nam
Tel: +84 4 3734 0907
Fax: + 84 4 3734 0904
Website: http://www.ilo.org/hanoi



UN Women Country Office for Viet Nam
72 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hanoi, Viet Nam
Tel: +84 4 39421495
Fax: + 84 4 38223579
Website: www.unwomen.org