Bringing Viet Nam together on gender
Ha Noi, Viet Nam: In Viet Nam – a UN 'Delivering as One' pilot country - UNV volunteers are right at the heart of working gender into the mainstream of development programming.
According to a recent UN Viet Nam report, Government commitment on gender equality is strong, and the gender gap in education and the workforce is narrowing. But traditional attitudes still persist, particularly among the rural poor. Although they work more hours, and spend a lot more time on domestic work than men, women often lose out to men financially. Violence against women also remains a big challenge.
It is therefore necessary to take women's issues into account in all development programming – 'gender mainstreaming'. Tanja Noponen is a UNV volunteer Gender Specialist tasked with this very duty.
"I give technical support to all UNDP projects on gender mainstreaming," says the Finnish national. "It is important to promote gender equality in all activities, not just for those that focus specifically on gender issues. Projects cannot meet their goals efficiently if there is no consideration of the different impacts on men and women. After all, women count for half of the population"
She says a good example is the UN's work with the Government of Viet Nam on climate change. Climate change will affect agricultural and ecological systems, and though many of Viet Nam's women are concentrated in agriculture they have less control over the resources that they depend upon compared to men.
"Because they are more dependent on land and natural resources for their livelihoods, women are more vulnerable to resource scarcity," expands Ms. Noponen. "In addition, with existing patterns of gender discrimination, both women and girls suffer more both during and in the aftermath of natural disasters. All this suggests that gender plays a big role in considering ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change."
Ms. Noponen is also at work promoting gender parity among staff at the UN Country Office, and involved in the Gender Programme Coordination Group as part of the 'Delivering as One' project. 'Delivering as One' aims to coordinate the various different UN agencies at country level and accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
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