Statement

Speech of Ms. Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative at the Consultation workshop on the National Programme on Prevention and Response to GBV 2021-2025

9 September 2020

Mr./Ms Tran Bich Loan, Deputy Director of the Gender Equality Department, MOLISA;

Representatives from MOLISA, line-ministries, International organizations, CSOs, GBV Net members and UN agencies;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

On behalf On behalf of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam, I am very pleased to welcome you to this consultation workshop on the National Programme on Prevention and Response to GBV for the period 2021-2025. I very much value and greatly appreciate the partnership, commitment and leadership of MOLISA in coordination and implementation of the joint efforts on GBV over the past years, as well as on the implementation of the UNFPA country programme for the period 2017-2021. The achievement we have made so far shows a strong evidence of the great collaboration and partnership among Ministries, social organizations and development partners.

 

On this occasion, I would like to thank all members of the GBV network for the dedication and contribution over the past years. Indeed, we are fully confident that the network will continue to be stronger in ending violence against women and girls in Viet Nam.

 

Distinguished guests,

 

In 2015, UNFPA supported MOLISA in developing the current National Programme on GBV prevention and response 2016-2020, as well as Vision to 2030. It was the first-ever National Programme approved by the Prime Minister to address thoroughly GBV nationwide in Viet Nam. Since 2016, UNFPA’s focus has been to help MOLISA implement the national programme, particularly to raise awareness and strengthen support services to survivors of violence.

 

In 2018 - 2019, in partnership with the Government of Australia, UNFPA supported MOLISA and GSO to conduct the second National Study on Violence Against Women in Viet Nam. This 2019 national study shows the pervasive complexity of violence against women and girls in the country. After 9 years following the initial and first study on violence against women, the prevalence of violence decreased only marginally in Viet Nam. Still nearly 2 out of 3 women in Viet Nam experience one or more forms of husband violence in their life time. And violence against women is very much hidden – women rarely talk about it or seek help. Almost all women (90.4%) who experienced physical and/or sexual violence by husbands did not seek any help. And this is appalling.

 

Today, we will have the last consultation workshop following three technical meetings in June and the consultation workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City in July 2020. It is a great opportunity for all of us to have a critical look, once again and before submission for the Prime Minister’s approval, at the draft national programme on prevention and response to GBV, so that we can make a significant change in terms of preventing and effectively responding to violence against women. The lessons learned from the 2016-2020 Programme on GBV prevention and response as well as the findings from the 2019 National Study on Violence Against Women in Viet Nam need to be fully taken into account for developing an impact-oriented and comprehensive National Programme on Prevention and Response to GBV for the period 2021-2025.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Before I conclude, I would like to appeal to you on the following four points.

 

First, as the 2019 Study on VAW confirmed, there has been some light at the end of the long and silenced tunnel, and we must stay the course and reinforce some of the initiatives we have implemented in the recent years, particularly at the front of changing social and cultural norms towards violence against women. We have had great initiatives in engaging boys and men as a change agent, and this is critical particularly as the 2019 national study clearly demonstrated evidence that change is happening especially amongst young generations. We must institute a new norm in Viet Nam that any form of violence against women is not acceptable.

 

Second, in the past years, we have invested to a great deal in raising awareness, breaking the silence, and talking about violence against women, which is very good. But such communication activities become fruitless if essential services for GBV survivors are not accessible OR affordable. In partnership with Koica, UNFPA has helped establish a model one-stop service center in Quang Ninh province, where all essential services, namely physical care, psychological counselling, police protection, justice and legal support, and social care are provided in one place. This is a different model from a shelter. Often victims of violence have to go around and look for different services, and this is the re-victimisation of victims, I must say. We must prevent this from happening, and one stop service centers must also cater for vulnerable groups such as the older persons and women with disabilities.

 

Third, we cannot afford to duplicating our efforts and allowing for inefficiencies in saving the lives of victims. There must be a very strong government coordination mechanism across different sectors, so that there is a solid coherence among various interventions to end violence against women. To put it very frankly, at present, state responsibilities of domestic violence and gender-based violence are placed under two separate state entities, and we do not think this is effective. It may not be one place over the other, but can we consider putting the prime responsibility higher, for instance under the premises of the Prime Minister. The 2019 National Study derived that violence against women is costing the country 1.8% of GDP per year. As such, and given economic challenges, the issue of violence against women must be taken as one of the top priorities of Viet Nam. 

 

Last but not the least, we must put Viet Nam’s country context under the prevailing threats of Covid-19. While data from the second wave is still not fully available, from the first wave, we know that Viet Nam was not an exception to the international trend that under Covid-19, violence against women increased, largely given confined environment as well as socio-economic stress and household income difficulties, let alone deep gender inequality which is deeply rooted in many societies. The number of calls at hotlines and help desks for GBV in Viet Nam increased by 20% during the first wave, and as such, today’s consultation must take Covid-19 fully into account in finalizing the new National Programme on prevention and response to GBV.

 

Thank you very much for your attention and I wish all a productive and successful workshop.