Speech of Ms Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative in Viet Nam at the Launching Ceremony on the National Action Month on Gender Equality and Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls

13 November 2016

Your Excellency Mr. Dao Ngoc Dung, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs;
Representatives from PCSA, MOLISA, MOH, MOCST, and social organizations;
Your Excellency Mr. Craig Chittick,  Ambassador of Australia;
Your Excellency Mme Nienke Trooster, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands;
International development partners, UN Colleagues and media;  
Ladies and gentlemen;
A very good morning to you all,

Thank you all for joining us today to the launch of the National Action Month on Gender Equality and Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls.

On behalf of the United Nations in Viet Nam, I very much value and greatly appreciate the partnership and commitment of MOLISA in the coordination and implementation of the 1st ever national action month to promote gender equality and eliminate violence against women and girls in Viet Nam.

Since 2012, the UN in Viet Nam has collaborated with the Government of Viet Nam to organize the joint national 16 day campaigns annually 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.   

Ladies and gentlemen,

Despite significant improvement in socio-economic situation of women, abuse of women and girls remains the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on earth.

Globally, one in every three women is subjected to violation by men, often close to her – father, husband, boyfriend, uncle, and supervisor, colleague at workplace, etc.

In Viet Nam, 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.

87% said they had been sexually harassed in public.

10% said they had been sexually assaulted by their spouses.

But 87% of victims did not seek help due to the lack of available services. Many were also afraid to speak up due to the fear of stigma, discrimination and further harassment.

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.

Distinguished guests,

Too often gender-based violence is seen as ‘just a woman’s issue’. But let me tell you: it is also a man's issue! With men responsible for most of the violence against women and girls, men are naturally vital to the solution. A UN research on men and masculinity in 2012 suggests that it is possible to tackle discriminatory attitudes and practices against women that lead to gender based violence and gender-biased sex selection.

If we want to reduce violence, conflicts and wars, if we want meaningful gender relationships, we must understand men and masculinity better, we must socialize boys and girls differently, we must rethink the idea of what is male and what is a female; we must develop partnership between boys/men and girls/women.
Women and men have to together lead gender equality and anti violence movement.

Ladies and gentlemen,

25th November marks the International Day against Violence, beginning world - wide 16 days of Activism against gender-based Violence.

Today we have gathered to launch a national action month and campaign to end Violence against Women and Girls.  This campaign will not be effective without active involvement of men and boys, as much as the involvement of girls in Viet Nam. I hope that all boys and men in Viet Nam will stand up to address inequalities, injustice and violence against girls and women.  

Ending violence against women should be a priority for every men and women.  

From today until 15 December we will take the campaign to schools, football stadiums, universities, provinces and through media.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted new and ambitious goals for sustainable development (SDGs) in September last year for the period 2016-2020, including a stand-alone goal on Gender Equality, and many gender-specific outputs and routinely gender-segregated data collection on all indicators. For the new SDGs to have a meaningful, positive impact, actions must be taken to break the cycle of violence against women and girls.  

Together, we can make Viet Nam safer and more equitable for women and girls.

Thank you and looking forward to a very successful campaign.