Women’s Engagement in Innovation, Integration and Development in Vietnam: A Journey Ahead

This op-ed is part of AASYP’s Digital Dialogues 2022, which is a programme that aims to provide a platform and forum for future leaders from across the region to contribute to the policymaking and diplomacy sphere by engaging in issues relating to innovation and investment, digital economy, and regional mobility.

“Women should stay at home and take care of the children”

“Women can work, but they are highly encouraged to be capable of national affairs and duteous at housework”

“Men are as shallow as a well, women are as deep as a pot of betel nut”

Those are among the norms tying women in Vietnam from expressing themselves, spending time developing their careers and contributing their innovation to the society and community. There are norms and beliefs rooted in the Vietnamese minds of the previous generations that women should only spend their time in the kitchen and take care of the children, the opinions and innovations of women are not worthy of being considered due to their limited vision, and women could only think about duties that are considered  ‘small’ and ‘insignificant’ while men can accomplish great things. Sometimes, women are seen and considered as a ‘solid rear’ for men to shine but not really having a real stage for themselves. These constraints prevent an inclusive economic environment, by preventing women from contributing to society, and by suppressing them from reaching their full individual potential.

As more women are becoming empowered, they are also facing new and various sets of challenges, including those that stem from the political, economic, and sociocultural, among others. The research indicated that the engagement of women enhances the development of the economy and fosters sustainable development due to their creative innovation. However, in Asian countries and especially in Vietnam, there are still many factors hindering their full participation in the economy, including expectations to balance competing priorities such as career and homemaking responsibilities.  For example, Vietnamese women are spending more than 21 hours a week compared to men doing house chores and taking care of the elderly, leaving them with limited opportunities to form connections for personal and professional development outside of the home 

To overcome the discrimination against women, as well as to foster their participation in innovation, integration, and development of the country, the Vietnamese government issued the new Labour Code and regulations, as well as enacted some policies that incentivise women to take greater roles in policy-making and participating in the government body. The new laws and regulations strictly prevent employers from discriminating or preventing the development of women in the workplace. However, it does not cover the micro-behaviour of employers, such as bias in recruitment, employment, and job promotion. Although the policies encouraging women have increased the number of women participating in government service, currently, women still have a long road ahead in terms of being able to assume more leadership and key decision-making roles.  

Making the policies and regulations is not only on paper, it requires efforts, not only from the women’s side but also from the society and community, to foster the engagement of women in innovation and integration. It is not about eliminating the social norms and enhancing education but also about the policies and the action of socio-political organizations in supporting women’s facilitation. This is the story of creating more favourable conditions for women, such as letting their voices be heard, creating a network for them to shine and nurturing them by equipping them with the crucial skills to develop more innovations for society. This is a call to all shareholders to boost an inclusive environment for sustainable development.

This article was written by Nguyen Le Thuy Phuong edited by the Diplomacy Team, and reviewed by the AASYP Publications Team.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the writer and in no way represent nor reflect the position of AASYP and members of the AASYP Publications Team. The AASYP Horizons Blog provides a platform for the free expression of opinions and intellectual discourse.

More to explore