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Women's rights and gender equality are embedded in many of Viet Nam's government policies, including its constitution. The Government of Viet Nam has put in place various institutional mechanisms to implement gender equality policies, such as the National Committee for the Advancement of Women. The recent decision of the Prime Minister approving a Strategy for the Advancement of Women to the year 2010 demonstrates the Government's ongoing commitment to the long-term process of achieving gender equality. Nevertheless, persisting traditional practices and attitudes prevent Vietnamese women from enjoying equal rights. At times implementation barriers impede progress in achieving gender equality.

Hence, it is important, on a regular basis to assess gender differences in various aspects of socio-economic life, in order to create more appropriate policies to target specific areas where gender inequality exists. The main purpose of research that forms the basis for this report is to assess the current situation of gender differences in the transitional economy of Viet Nam. The report explores the gender differences in key sectors of development and attempts to define broad policy directions. The research findings show that important gender equality achievements have been made and in some areas, the situation of women or girls is actually better than for men or boys. However, there remain many areas where women and girls are still at a disadvantage compared to men or boys. Continued targeted efforts are required to sustain as well as further improve the situation of women and girls in Viet Nam.

Collection of sex-disaggregated data and a subsequent gender analysis of the data will continue to be a prerequisite for sound gender-sensitive policy-making. These efforts are also essential for providing factual indication of real gaps in terms of where women and men have gained or lost in the process of development. Over the last few years, Viet Nam has progressed well in data collection. This year, the General Statistics Office has launched a new Household Living Standard Survey which will be carried out every two years. Preliminary data of this year's survey will be available at the end of 2002 thus allowing for a new gender analysis in 2003. This will be timely to adjust the implementation of the Government's Action plans, including the Strategy for the Advancement of Women as well as the Plan of Action II. These data will also provide crucial information to measure progress made towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 as well as the Viet Nam Development Goals which form part of Government Strategies, such as the Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS). In the future, it will also be important to complement quantitative surveys with qualitative surveys and to learn more about decision making and resource allocation patterns within the households throughout Viet Nam.

Both FAO and UNDP trust that this report will contribute to the on-going debates and discussions on integration of gender considerations in Viet Nam's development policies and programmes and stand ready to support the Government in facing this challenge as well as in future gender analysis activities.

Jean-François Ghyoot

Jordan D. Ryan

FAO Representative

UNDP Resident Representative

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