| Gender gaps among ethnic minority groups and between ethnic minority groups and the majority Kinh people are still large. (Photo credited by UN Women)
The National Target Program covers 10 major component projects in which gender issues in ethnic minority areas are particularly concerned.
Truong Thi Thu Thuy, Head of the Ethnic Minority and Religious Affairs Department of the Vietnam Women's Union, said ethnic women are still suffering from social inequality.
“Ethnic women in mountain areas face twin hindrances in their gender and ethnic minority status. Most of them live in extremely disadvantaged regions with few opportunities to access information, legal services, credit, or education,” said Thuy.
“The Vietnam Women’s Union is tasked with developing and implementing the component project on gender equality and addressing some urgent issues concerning women and children.”
Thuy stressed the importance of making people, especially those in the political system, understand the role of women to help ethnic women promote their capacity and strength.
“It’s necessary to maximize the role of women so that they can participate in social activities that enhance sustainable development in mountain areas. The strength of ethnic women won’t be fully tapped until their potential beyond indigenous values and culture is promoted,” Thuy noted.
Nguyen Tam Giang, a social development expert with the World Bank in Vietnam, said gender preconceptions cause economic and cultural losses.
He called for increased participation of women in the state management apparatus that implements projects for ethnic minority women and children.
“From the World Bank’s perspective, gender inequality leads to a loss of human capital and economic contributions. Worldwide these damages cost approximately 160 trillion USD, just because women are not involved in economic activities,” said Giang.
The Vietnam Women’s Union has proposed financing women’s education to ensure that 40% to 50% of all trainees are women. It also stressed the need to give ethnic minority women more opportunities to promote traditional cultural values through their production experience.