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Excellency Mr. Nguyen Hoang Mai, Vice Chairperson of the PCSA;

Excellency Ms. Do Thi Lan, Vice Chairperson of the PCSA;

Distinguished members of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs and the Standing Committee of the Ethnic Minority Council;

Representatives from MOH, MOLISA, MOJ, GSO/MPI, Provincial Peoples’ Councils of the Northern cities and provinces;


Good morning,

It is my great pleasure to open this workshop together with Excellency Mr. Nguyen Hoang Mai, Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs (PCSA). Let me at the outset sincerely thank the PCSA for organizing this workshop to share and discuss with the elected deputies of the National Assembly on key issues related to population and demographic trends in sustainable development.


This is the 2nd workshop, after the 1st one held in Da Nang on 27 June, where we had very productive discussions with the elected deputies from the Central region and the Central Highlands. I would also like to express my appreciation to all elected officials of the National Assembly and People’s Councils who are here today. Your contributions and roles in strengthening the development and implementation of national policies and programmes are essential during your five-year term through 2026, so as to protect the rights of all people in the country’s socio-economic development.


Dear participants,

Just three days ago on 11 July, we celebrated the World Population Day with the theme “A world of 8 billion: Towards a resilient future for all - Harnessing opportunities and ensuring rights and choices for all.” As the total number of people in the world tops 8 billion in a few months, the UNFPA Executive Director made it clear that the notion of “too many people” will be a mistake. She emphasized that focusing only on population numbers and growth rates often leads to coercive and counterproductive measures, where women are pressured to have children or prevented from doing so. There may be more people in the world today, but equally important is the unprecedented demographic diversity we see in the global population. Our Executed Director spoke to countries in the world that people are the solution, and not the problem. When people have the power to make informed choices about whether and when to have children, when they can exercise their rights and responsibilities, they can navigate risks and the foundation of more inclusive, adaptable and sustainable societies.  

Let me highlight a few critical issues in Viet Nam which require close attention by the National Assembly in the coming years:


The topic of fertility in Viet Nam is currently attracting a lot of attention. The results of the 2019 Population and Housing Census and annual population change and family planning surveys (PCS) conducted by GSO confirmed that Viet Nam’s current fertility level has been set at the replacement level. The total fertility rate, which is the number of children a woman has in life, is estimated at 2.11 in 2021. This indeed assures the current and ongoing consideration of the Government on population work, transitioning from population numbers and family planning in the past, to a more comprehensive population and development approach for 2030 SDGs agenda. And as UNFPA, we continue to advise Viet Nam to put in place legal and policy measures which are fully in line with the principles of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which Viet Nam signed up to. That is, individuals and couples should be able to decide freely and responsibly the number, timing and spacing of having children.

The findings of the 2019 Census and population surveys revealed that Viet Nam's population is ageing at a rate that has never been observed before: those aged 60 and above accounts for 12.8% of the total population, or 12.6 million people in 2021. Here, it should be fully understood that population ages not just because mortality declines and people live longer, but because fertility declines. Here, it is important to note that ageing society can also present new opportunities, particularly under the Industrial Revolution 4.0. The elderly can continue to contribute to the country’s socio-economic growth, and there are also opportunities for businesses to grow for the provision of care to the elderly.

The report of the UN Economist Network for the UN’s 75th anniversary, which was issued in September 2020, listed out 5 Global Mega Trends which shape the world. One of them is Population Shifts, and this is even more important when we are analysing the impact of Covid-19 on mortality, fertility and migration. For Viet Nam, this is then critical, when the country has the largest young population in its history, and the unique demographic window of opportunity is still open to accelerate Viet Nam’s socio-economic growth and achieve SDGs. Also, as mentioned above, population ageing is progressing faster than ever before in Viet Nam. When it comes to population data, we must acknowledge that we are standing at an exceptional standpoint for demographic trends of the world and of Viet Nam. 

Dear participants,

We have a critical problem which has not been resolved for years, and it is gender-biased sex selection. In 2019, about 45,900 girls are estimated to be missing as a result of gender-biased and prenatal sex selection. Viet Nam’s sex ratio at birth, which is 111.5 boys per 100 girls as compared to the biologically and demographically normal range of 105, is the third highest in Asia, following China and India.


Pre-natal sex selection is a result of three factors. The first is son preference, which is deeply rooted in the traditional culture in many countries in the world including Viet Nam. So when couples conceive a girl, there is always a tendency of giving up on the girl in preference for a son. The second factor is fertility decline and fertility limitation. In the case of Viet Nam, we basically have 2 chances of having a child. If the first one is a girl, and the second, which must be the last one, is also confirmed to be a girl, couples tend to resort to a termination of pregnancy. And the last factor is the presence of reproductive technology, which is increasingly available in Viet Nam, whether it is urban or rural areas.


Gender-biased sex selection should be stopped not only from the perspectives of human rights and gender equality, and also because it has implications, especially in what demographers call as “marital squeeze” due to a shortage of women. It is projected that, if the current sex ratio at birth remains unchanged, there will be a surplus of 1.5 million men aged 15-49 by 2034, and this figure will increase to 2.5 million by 2059. A surplus of men will mean that more and more men will find it difficult to find a partner, and there may be an increase in trafficking and violence against women and girls.


The findings of the UNFPA-supported 2019 National Study on Violence against Women in Viet Nam showed very little change in terms of prevalence of violence, compared to the 1st study conducted in 2010. This is very disappointing. According to the 2019 Study, 62.9 percent of women in Viet Nam experienced one or more forms of physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence, and controlling behaviours by their husband in their life time. Violence is hidden in Vietnam’s society, as 90.4 percent of survivors of violence did not seek any help from authorities and half of them never told anyone about the violence. Furthermore, violence against women is costing the country 1.81% of GDP. And this is an alarming issue.


Dear participants,

Viet Nam has made significant progress in improving sexual and reproductive health in the past 20 years. However, disparities and inequalities remain in access to and utilization of sexual and reproductive health services among different population groups including ethnic minorities, migrant workers, young people, and those living in remote locations.


The SDGs survey conducted by Viet Nam’s General Statistic Office in 2021 in collaboration with UNFPA and UNICEF showed that only 72.2% of married women are satisfied with modern contraceptives, and this percentage even drops further to 50.3% for unmarried women. The problem seems to be acute among young people, whose unmet need for family planning is estimated 4 times higher than married women. This calls for an increased investment in meeting unmet need for family planning and modern contraceptives especially amongst Vietnamese teenagers. It is therefore critical that special attention is paid to the quality of sexual and reproductive health services for youth, ensuring their universal access, so that they can make informed decisions.


Dear participants,

In our 10th Country Programme in the coming 5 years, UNFPA continues to work closely with Viet Nam to achieve:

  • Zero preventable maternal death;
  • Zero unmet need for family planning; and
  • Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

Now is the time to stand by our commitment to leave no one behind. As the National Assembly’s members and elected officials, you have special power to represent Vietnamese people and bring in their voices to the country’s policy and decision making. And therefore, you all have a vital role to play in accelerating progress for the furthest behind groups, which is not only the right thing to do, but also is the smart thing to do.


Thank you and I look forward to a productive discussion today.