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Gender equality at work: shifting the mindset and approach from protecting female employees to promoting gender equality


On October 09th, 2019, in Hanoi, Ministry of Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) in cooperation with UN Women held the Consulting Workshop on gender equality in the draft labour code (revided) and development of its implementation Decree. Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Ha attended and chaired the workshop. Attending the workshop were representatives of ministries, sectors, collectives, non-government organizations, department of Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs, Industrial Zone’s manager boards in some localities and enterprises.

In the opening speech, Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Ha emphasized that Labour Code 2012 has ensured the principle of gender equality. Especially, most of the regulations of the Labour Code were applied for both male and female. Moreover, from the natural and specific social features, Labour Code 2012 has the specific chapter for the regulation for female labour. These regulation has ensured the rights and benefits of women when participate into labour market.

According to the Gender Impact  and Social Impact Assessment of the Project of Labour Code (revised) have pointed out some contents are not feasible due to the lack of appropriate specific regulations such as sexual harassment prevention and combat, preferential policies for enterprises employing a lot of female employees, preventive vocational training policies for female workers, etc.
The  project of Labour  Code (revised) is an opportunity for policy makers including experts, workers' representatives and employers to research, recognize and agree on mechanisms and policies for with female workers and promoting gender equality in line with national practice and catching up with global trends. These issues have direct and profound impacts on most agencies, organizations, enterprises and tens of millions of male and female workers in the labour market. Firstly, the amendment and supplementation of policies for female workers promoting gender equality must be consistent with the constitutional principles in the 2013 Constitution. At the same time, the draft of Labour Code (revised) ensure uniformity in legal system, the compatibility with international conventions that Vietnam has ratified such as the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and other Conventions of the International Labour Organization. Secondly, it is necessary to shift the mindset and approach from protecting female employees to promoting gender equality. Accordingly, it is necessary to stipulate measures to ensure the realization of gender equality in practice and maternity protection for both male and female workers, with specific and feasible measures and regulations. .
The change of awareness and approach from protecting female workers to promoting gender equality was also recommended by the representative of UN Women in Viet Nam at the Workshop. It emphasizes four main issues: narrowing and gradually eliminating the retirement age gap between male and female employees; Ensuring and promoting gender equality and non-discrimination based on gender regarding opportunities, conditions, capacity to exercise rights and enjoy benefits at work in performing maternity and child-rearing functions in accordance with gender characteristics; Improving effective and reasonable responsibility sharing mechanism between the State and employers in organizing day care facilities and kindergartens and in assisting employees with sending their children to day care facilities and kindergartens; Improving the legal mechanism to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, contribute to ensuring a safe and sound working environment.
At the workshop, the participants contributed a total of 12 comments related to the issues of the Labour  Code, of which 9 comments related to gender equality. These are very meaningful ideas from experts, policy management agencies, international organizations, researchers, practitioners of DOLISA. Most of the comments agree with the Draft, many agree that it is necessary to ensure a modern approach is to empower women. The ideas at the Workshop included factors related to theory with scientific evidence, with reference to many world experiences, practical implementation of the Labour Code 2012.