Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

6. Broad Gender Responsive Policy Framework

Differences in socio-economic factors alone do not explain differences in poverty between FHHs and others implying a need for gender-specific interventions.

Research results indicate that gender-specific interventions are warranted to ensure equality of development in Viet Nam. Gender differences are apparent in socio-economic conditions such as education, employment and income. There are also interactions between socio-geographic attributes and sex of household head, on living conditions. Gender differences and the effect of these characteristics on poverty need to be considered in developing poverty reduction policies.

It appears that both demand and supply factors are affecting gender differences in socio-economic outcomes, requiring a mix of policies to overcome them.

Analysis distinguishing between demand and supply factors is important because it will determine the design of public policy. If market conditions and the institutional context within which individuals make decisions are found to be the main sources of unequal outcomes, then policy needs to focus on modifying these "supply side" factors. If on the other hand, inequality is traced to the decisions made by individuals, possibly due to gender-based differences in preferences, traditional attitudes to gender roles, access to assets and control over income, then the primary emphasis of policy should be on the "demand side". Gender differences in educational enrolments, employment and access to resources identified in this report most probably result from a combination of demand and supply factors, so a mixed policy may be required.

Policy will have to impact both external institutions and household behaviour.

Gender equalising policy may be directed either to external institutions that provide the goods and services, or directed toward households, to change individual behaviours, or directed to both. In discerning policy interventions, governments have a wide range of options for correcting gender imbalances. These include the direct provision of goods and services, the financing of private provision, income transfers, taxation and directives on what can and cannot be done. The choice of policy tools requires careful examination of the different factors influencing a particular outcome and the constraints different policy options might face in correcting existing inequalities.

Sharing of resources in households creates difficulties in identifying and targeting in gender policy.

The pattern of sharing resources and income within households presents gender responsive policy with an "identification and targeting" problem. Analyses of the VLSS data do not provide for identification of the individual benefits of policies and assurance that only the intended beneficiary receives the benefit.

Characteristics of policies are important to ensure that women benefit when policies are directed at households.

One main concern for gender responsive policy is the potential for reallocation of resources within the household, in response to policies and changes in the external environment. In this context, the most effective policies are likely to be (a) those that provide benefits that are individually identifiable, and non-substitutable, and (b) those that increase women's bargaining position within the household so as to prevent (general) resource re-allocation that is not beneficial to them. The emphasis in this case is on policies that are "individualised" in some sense. A second set of policies consist of those that increase women's incomes in the short run, even though the benefit is (a) shared with others in the household, and (b) can be appropriated by others through re-allocation of resources.

Certain policies are better able to target women than others in achieving reallocation of resources.

The encouragement of female post-primary education, policies that promote individual ownership of assets, and increased female access to formal credit, along with reproductive health services (of better quality and at lower cost), are likely to be most effective. These target benefits to individuals and in such instances the benefits cannot be appropriated through a re-allocation of resources. In addition, provision of information for women regarding their legal rights, which in fact are egalitarian in Viet Nam, is critical.

Effects of income generation policies for women are likely to be diluted because of reallocation of benefits within the household.

A second tier of policy interventions would be those that increase women's incomes in the short run, while recognising that a re-allocation of household activities could result in these benefits being relatively short-lived. Increasing technical assistance to livestock maintenance, and small-scale non-farm enterprises (particularly those engaged in retail sales) is likely to benefit women (more than men) because current activity patterns indicate greater female involvement in these sectors.

Simpler, less expensive indicators than income or expenditure can be used for monitoring gender inequality.

Vulnerability is commonly gauged on the more complicated income-expenditure characteristics of households. Such indicators, however, are difficult and very costly to collect. This should not prevent the implementation of appropriate monitoring schemes since more simple correlates of poverty exist that do show gender differentials at the individual level including indices of healthy/hygienic surroundings and hygienic shelter/ample utilities.

Geographic targeting is likely to be important, but more research is required.

Geographic targeting should be considered as an important component of gender policy, but more careful research on sex-disaggregated geographic determinants of poverty is warranted. Rural areas and regions with large numbers of people of ethnic minority require greater gender equality interventions than urban and largely Kinh areas, but finer geographic distinctions and greater specificity of interventions will have to be identified through further research.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page