Vietnam does poorly in global ranking of women empowerment

By Nguyen Quy   October 28, 2019 | 07:44 pm PT
Vietnam does poorly in global ranking of women empowerment
Women work at a tech firm in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by AFP.
Vietnam trails behind many other Asian countries and languishes in the bottom half of a global ranking of women's empowerment.

The country shared 92nd position with neighboring Thailand in the Women, Peace and Security Index published last week by the U.S.'s Georgetown Institute and the Norway's Peace Research Institute Oslo.

The index measured 167 countries and territories around the world to assess women's empowerment based on 11 indicators grouped in three metrics: women's inclusion in society, security and justice.

Inclusion was measured by women's achievements in education, employment, parliamentary representation, and access to cell phones and financial services while security measured the level of domestic violence, organized violence and women's perception of community safety.

Justice was used to assess the level of legal discrimination against women, son bias and discriminatory norms.

Vietnam scored an overall 0.707 out of 1.

East Asian countries ranked much higher: Japan was 29th, South Korea was 33rd and China was 76th.

In Southeast Asia, Vietnam ranked below Singapore (23rd), Malaysia (73rd), Laos (78th), and the Philippines (90th), and above only Indonesia (95th), Cambodia (102nd) and Myanmar (150th).

The report said Vietnam has done a good job in providing employment to women, achieving a rate of 76 percent compared to the global average of 49.4 percent.

It has made substantial improvements in ensuring education for women and their political participation.

Women in the country have a 26.7 percent share of parliament seats against the global average of 21.5 percent.

In terms of security, Vietnam has a low level of domestic violence and organized crime involving women. However, only 53.3 percent of women aged 15 and above feel safe walking alone at night in their city or neighborhood, lower than the global average of 63.8 percent.

Besides, a son bias, reflecting a preference for boys, which indicates serious discrimination against girls, is still a major problem in a country still heavily influenced by Confucian values, including patriarchy, which favors males over females in family matters and social settings.

The sex ratio has been steadily leaning towards males in Vietnam, from 111.7 boys for every 100 girls born in 2017 to 115.1 boys for every 100 girls born in 2018, according to official statistics.

China fared the worst in terms of gender imbalance since many families have a traditional preference for male heirs, creating a huge surplus of single men. The high demand for Vietnamese brides among Chinese men has exacerbated the trafficking of women.

Norway took the top spot in the global ranking, followed by Switzerland and Finland.

Yemen was the worst country in the world for women, followed by poor and/or conflict-torn Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, and South Sudan.

Areas with armed conflicts or where the security situation worsened also saw a deterioration in women's quality of life.

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