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Vietnam's women workers face discrimination at work

Publication Date : 01-08-2014

 

Female workers in Vietnam still find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to wage payment, working environment and training and promotion opportunities, even though the country is one of Southeast Asia's best in terms of fostering gender equality, according to an assessment by the United Nations Development Programme.

Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, director of the Centre for Female Workers and Gender Studies, said at a workshop on Tuesday that the proportion of women participating in the labour force remained low, despite the fact that economic woes in recent years motivated more women to find jobs outside the home. In 2012, 72.8 per cent of women participated in the labour force, compared to 81.3 per cent of men.

Moreover, traditions and gender stereotypes – such as the commonly held belief by employers that men were more productive - hindered women's access to varied career choices and opportunities to raise their knowledge and skills.

In 2012, the average monthly salary of female workers was 3.2 million dong (over US$150), while men received more than 3.8 million dong ($180), said Thuy.

In most economic sectors, the average monthly wage of female workers was lower than that of men. The greatest wage gap was found in the FDI sector, where female workers earned only half what male employees were paid.

In the private sector, these roles were reversed: women working for private companies earned slightly more than their male counterparts.

Mai Duc Thien, deputy director of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs's Legal Department, said the proportion of women holding leadership positions in the Government system was about 30 per cent.

Yet in enterprises, women held only about 6.3 per cent of leadership positions. This proportion is considered high in Southeast Asia, but is much lower than many countries such as the US, where it is 17 per cent, according to Intelligent Financial Research and Consulting.

Some enterprises still hold back from recruiting young women without children and ask female workers to delay their plans to have children, Thien added.

Vahidha Nizam, a representative from the Indian Trade Union, said at a workshop held in Ha Noi last week that to achieve gender equality, female workers needed to be equipped with the skills to negotiate for the appropriate salary and fight for work safety.

Thuy of the Centre for Female Workers and Gender Studies recommended that women be encouraged to pursue higher education, which would make it easier for them to obtain a higher salary.

Nguyen Thanh Hoa, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that Vietnam had approved to follow 21 out of 189 international conventions about gender equality in minimum income.

He said that grasping the core of these conventions and identifying the challenges to implementing them was essential, especially as Vietnam prepared to develop the Law on Minimum Wage.

 

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