Speech of Ms. Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative at the Gender Action Partnership Meeting

20 September 2016

Mr. Pham Ngoc Tien, Director of the Office of National Committee for Advancement of Women (NCFAW)/ Director of Gender Equality Department, MOLISA;
Representatives from Government ministries, social organizations, and research institutes;
International development partners, NGOs and UN colleagues;  
Ladies and gentlemen;

A very good morning to you all,

Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
I am very honoured to be here at this Gender Action Partnership (GAP) meeting to discuss on the implementation plan of the 1st ever National Action Month on promoting Gender Equality and preventing violence against women and girls. I would like to thank the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and UN Women for organizing this event and inviting me to co-chair the today's discussion.

I very much value and greatly appreciate the partnership and commitment of MOLISA in improving partnership and coordination around gender equality and the advancement of women in Viet Nam. I would like to thank all members of  the GAP's members for your dedication and contribution to this important work over the past years. Indeed, we are confident that this partnership will be stronger and more effectively in improving gender equality and combating gender based violence in Viet Nam.

Distinguished guests,

Since 2012, the UN in Viet Nam has organised the joint national 16 day campaign to raise awareness and action in 2006 UN Secretary General's initiated global campaign called Unite for ending violence against women and girls.  These campaigns showed a strong evidence of the great collaboration and partnership among ministries, social organizations and development partners.

It's great to see that in October 2015, the Prime Minister approved a National Action Programme on Gender Equality for the 2016-2020 period and recognized  the period from 15 November to 15 December as the Annual Action Month on Promoting Gender Equality and Preventing Violence against Women and Girls in Viet Nam. This shows a strong commitment and great effort of Viet Nam in addressing this important issue.   

This year will be the first year for Viet Nam to carry out nation-wide communication and awareness raising activities on this issue, based on the lessons learned from the previous campaigns. I believe that with your valuable ideas and suggestions, the national campaign will be comprehensive for implementation at both national and sub-national levels, through a multi-sectoral coordination mechanism.

Ladies and gentlemen,
In this respect, allow me to  highlight some recommendations we feel need to be prioritized for this national campaign:

First, According to the National Survey on Domestic Violence conducted in 2010, 58% of ever-married women said that they had experienced at least one form of physical, sexual and emotional violence from someone close at some point in their lives. Also, 87% of domestic violence victims did not seek help. Many were afraid of speaking up due to fear of stigma and discrimination, and also felt that there was a lack of accessible specialized services.

The data clearly tells us the government needs to step up to provide necessary services for the victims of gender-based violence. At the same time, it is crucial to create an environment where victims of violence do not have to feel shame or family pressure to keep quiet. All too often, women do not speak up and seek justice because they prioritize the image of “happy family” over her own rights and dignity. This clearly is not a real happy family, and this kind of situation must change.

Second, it is critical to change mindset and attitude of people on gender-based violence, particularly sexual violence, including sexual harassment. Men need to recognize that women are equally to them, and respect women’s right to be safe in any environment either at home, work place or in public. Since most of men are the decision makers in society and within the family, men can be partners and agents of change to stop gender-based violence. Positive male role models need to be identified and encouraged to advocate for social change.
Distinguished guests,

UNFPA together with its partner agencies in the UN in Viet Nam is committed to continuing our support to the Government and civil society organisations, to advance the status of women and girls and promote gender equality. Let us all work towards a Viet Nam where no woman should have to live in fear, and where all women are treated with dignity and respect.

Thank you very much for your attention and I look forward to our and productive and fruitful discussions. And I wish you all good health and happiness.