Nguyễn Vân Anh (second from left) and other panelists from Southeast Asian countries at a regional dialogue on Women, Peace and Security in Jakarta last month.
Nguyễn Vân Anh (second from left) and other panelists from Southeast Asian countries at a regional dialogue on Women, Peace and Security in Jakarta last month. Photo: Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Việt Nam News reporter Khánh Dương speaks to Nguyễn Vân Anh, director of the Centre for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescent (CSAGA) on the sidelines of an ASEAN dialogue on Women, Peace and Security regional plan of action in Jakarta, Indonesia late last month.

Việt Nam has joined global and regional efforts in promoting women’s engagement in peace and security by issuing the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in January this year. How does this demonstrate Việt Nam’s commitment to the world regarding this topic?

I am excited to know that Việt Nam is among 107 first countries in the world to approve the National Action Plan on WPS. WPS National Action Plan’s approval by a peaceful country currently without wars like Việt Nam has made our important contributions to the regional and global action plans.

It will act as a navigation for the region and the world regarding women in peace and security.

What gender-based stereotypes do Vietnamese women face during their participation in politics and security?

It has been believed that women must be positioned behind men, stay at home, in the kitchen for cooking. Women can’t stay at the frontline to take on major national and regional tasks. Those stereotypes have been existing for thousands of years and it is extremely difficult to change them.

In fact, everyone can see that women’s ability is as good as men. The problem is that they do not have favourable conditions. Those stereotypes have left women behind.

Female leaders have to face more stereotypes than male leaders. They must complete domestic chores, be good wives and daughters-in-law.

I think we have to change those stereotypes through communication to empower women.

Which types of challenges does Việt Nam face while applying the WPS National Action Plan and what angles should we focus on and promote?

Việt Nam has paid due attention to female participation in peacekeeping force and in fact we have a relatively high proportion of female peacekeepers. As I observed, the female troop’s quality is not inferior to men’s. Vietnamese female peacekeepers are proud of their position. That’s their strength.

I think the most emerging problem of Việt Nam now is gender-based violence and inequality.

We must promote women leadership so that women have the same opportunities as men, even more because they have to take on the duty of giving birth, breastfeeding and child raising. The biggest difficulty is to create favourable conditions for them and encourage them.

At first we need to start from educating girls or promoting women’s supportive policies. For example, a woman who has a baby to care but has to travel far for a meeting. Do we have policy to create conditions for them to take care of the child, bring her/him along on the business trip or have a babysitter so that women can engage in social work without thinking over domestic tasks.

How do we encourage men’s engagement in gender issues in Việt Nam?

Someone has said the human race is like a bird with two wings, and if one wing is broken, no one can fly.

We need both men and women’s participation. I’d love to say that a healthy relationship is the basic foundation of peace.

Talking about gender equality, we must get men involved. Women’s efforts alone are not enough.

In general, men’s gender equality movements in the world are not as strong as women’s. Men seem to stay out of the box as everything is favourable to them.

Men must end violence in various forms on women, from sexual harassment to inequal treatment. When men are aware that that is their benefit, they will get involved.

In an unharmonised family where violence exists, the atmosphere is of course not good, affecting the young generation and the family’s economics. When we look wider at the situation of a nation and the world, if women are respected, do not suffer from violence and are encouraged to live with their aspirations, men will also feel the sharing.

The WPS National Action Plan is a macro document covering major issues. How do you get small communities involved so that the action plan becomes practical?

WPS National Action Plan is a quite strange phrase to everyone in Việt Nam, even those working on gender issues.

We need strategic communication campaigns to make people simply understand that that is their own issue, not a major issue out there.

We need to maintain peaceful relationship with ourselves and others.

At the office, we should not accept gender-based violence under all forms. All of those actions make us think that WPS National Action Plan is something simple and easy to inspire others to take actions.

What activities have CSAGA and other civil society organisations in Việt Nam done to promote the WPS National Action Plan?

Civil society organisations are doing our best to improve gender-based violence awareness and vulnerable groups.

Civil society organisations have paid attention to equipping children with knowledge and skills for them to develop in the best ways.

We have a programme which changes men’s awareness by working with young men or those who used to be perpetrators and then became agents of change and community leaders against gender violence.

CSAGA has a training course for Vietnamese peacekeeping forces on sexual harassment prevention.

The UN’s principles in dealing with the force’s violations remain very strict. Just a sexual harassment accusation can have a serious impact on the country they represent.

We have trained the peacekeepers, for example, when a cleaner comes to their room for tidying up, they must go out or have the third person inside so that they can avoid being accused of being a harasser. —VNS

Việt Nam joins the world in promoting action plan on women, peace and security

HÀ NỘI — The Việt Nam’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security was approved in January this year.Its overall goals are to ensure and further promote gender equality; enhance the role, position, voice, rights, obligations and responsibilities of women in participating in peace and security, contributing to maintaining peace, stability and sustainable development of on the national and global scales.The specific goal by 2030 is to increase the full, equal, and meaningful participation of Vietnamese women in politics, foreign affairs, defence, security and handling and responding to non-traditional national security challenges, as well as in peacekeeping and international security.Việt Nam looks to better prevent and respond to gender-based violence in the context of incidents, disasters and response to non-traditional security challenges. Under the National Action Plan, Việt Nam also aims to strengthen gender integration in relief and recovery activities, including overcoming war consequences, preventing, handling, and responding to incidents, disasters, and non-traditional security challenges; foster international cooperation on women, peace and security. ASEAN has already issued a regional action plan on WPS. Four Southeast Asian countries including Việt Nam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor Leste have approved the National Action Plan so far. — VNS

This article was originally published on Viet Nam News.
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