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Gender and Social Protection Dissemination Workshop (May 9, 2013)

On May 4th 2012 in Hanoi, UN Women in partnership with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the Institute of Labour, Social Science and Affairs, the Australian Government (AusAID), and the Institute for Family and Gender Studies (IFGS) hosted a workshop as an opportunity for discussion and information sharing among government agencies, research institutes and development partners.

Policy momentum around social protection has grown over the past decade, motivated by a concern to reduce residual poverty and vulnerability and as emphasized in the country’s Socio-Economic Development Plans. Viet Nam now has an array of social protection programs in place including social assistance, social insurance and a range of social services and social equity measures. However, gendered risks and  inequalities tend to be overlooked in the country’s social protection policies and programs.

At the workshop, Dr. Nicola Jones, Research Fellow, ODI and Dr. Tran Thi Van Anh, Research Fellow, IFGS presented a report titled, “The politics of gender and social protection in Viet Nam: Institutions, ideas and interest.” The report findings noted that in Vietnam, key strategy and policy frameworks are in place including the Gender Equality Law, the new National Targeted Program on Poverty Reduction, Resolution No 80/NQ-CP on Sustainable Poverty Reduction (2011-2020) and a new master Plan on Social Protection. These policy frameworks have considerable potential to promote more gender-sensitive social protection interventions. Nevertheless, the political economy dynamics of the decentralized policy and program implementation need to be tackled urgently and systematically if scarce resources are to be harnessed effectively for the well-being of all citizens. Action needs to be informed by an understanding of the institutional blockages, actor interests and incentive structures, and the political cultural ideas underpinning current approaches to poverty reduction and social protection, and the ways in which gender power relations permeate each of these domains.

According to Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Huu Minh, Director of IFGS, in the context of market price fluctuation and inflation and economic stabilization, social welfare is a top priority. People with low income; including workers, farmers, labourers and officers with a fixed salary find it difficult to manage price fluctuations in the market. He said individuals and families find it difficult to manage if they are not supported by the Government.

Ms. Suzette Mitchell, Country Representative for UN Women affirmed the need for a gendered approach to social protection, “There is a growing body of evidence on the gendered nature of vulnerable groups in Viet Nam and gender inequalities tend to be overlooked in the country’s social protection policies and programs.”

Almost all of the workshop participants shared the opinion that ensuring a gender perspective in the design and implementation of different types of social protection policies and programs can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency and improve social protection outcomes for both women and men.

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