Vietnamese women continue to get less pay, face discrimination: report

By Minh Nga   October 28, 2021 | 06:00 am PT
Vietnamese women continue to get less pay, face discrimination: report
Female workers at a footwear factory in Vietnam's southern Long An Province, July 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam
Men get paid more than women at work and women continue to face social barriers in career advancement, a UN Women report says.

The gender wage gap favoring men has persisted and is currently at 13.7 percent for formal workers, according to the Vietnam Country Gender Equality Profile 2021 released this week by UN Women.

Vietnam's General Statistics Office (GSO) estimates the gender earnings gap at 29.5 percent - 21.5 percent in urban areas and 35.2 percent in rural areas.

Women work similar hours to men and there is no significant difference in education levels, but they are overrepresented in lower-paid segments of the labor market and in part-time work, the report says.

This reflects the structural discrimination and the cumulative "motherhood employment penalty" for women, says the report that is a collaborative effort by UN Women, the Australian government, the Asian Development Bank, the International Labor Organization and independent experts.

The report, prepared with close cooperation from Vietnamese government agencies, including the GSO and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, also reveals that gender stereotypes profoundly affect women's economic participation, placing barriers to leadership and promotion based on the perceived primacy of their caregiver role.

Such stereotypes fuel prejudice in relation to women's capabilities and knowledge, the report says.

In Vietnam, as elsewhere, there is a pervasive notion of women being the ‘secondary earner’, while men are considered the primary income earners, and this is true in both urban and rural settings.

While women have been able to make advances through increased access to waged work, the economy has "a gendered structure" and women face formal, social and cultural barriers to participating on par with men.

In 2018, women accounted for 26.5 percent of small and medium enterprise (SME) ownership, and women-owned SMEs employed a higher percentage of female workers in Vietnam than those owned by men (43.4 percent versus 36 percent).

Currently, only 17 percent of the nation’s large companies are run by women.

The proportion of female managers in foreign-owned firms was 34.1 percent in 2019 and no data is available on women’s representation in senior management roles within state-owned enterprises.

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