Vietnam’s female labour force participation is 72%, higher than the average rate in the world (49%).
According to the report, Vietnam’s female labour force participation is 72%, higher than the average rate in the world (49%), as well as the Asia-Pacific region and the group of lower-middle income countries. The number of female labourers in Vietnam accounts for 48.4% of the total labour force. However, the percentage of employed Vietnamese women is 9% lower than that of men. Currently, there are 7.8 million female employees working in the informal sector with unsecured working conditions. The rate of female labourers in informal and vulnerable work is at 59.6%, while the figure is 31.8% for men. The report also points out the fact that female labourers are at a lower status than men in the employment structure. Women account for only 26.1% of the leadership positions but contribute 52.1% of the unskilled workers and 66.6% of the household workers. This shows that there are still many barriers for women in gaining access to career development opportunities compared to men.
Female workers are usually the first choice when businesses want to cut costs and downsize their employees, citing many reasons, such as unsecured health and the lack of conditions to improve skills, resulting in low labour productivity. Furthermore, the report reveals that up to 57.3% of unemployed women are in the group of untrained labourers and 50.2% are in the group of workers with vocational training. Notably, the share of female labourers with tertiary education in the unemployed group is at 55.4%, which indicates that the employment access among female labourers is much more difficult compared to men in almost all qualification quintiles, especially the lowest and the highest quintiles. The reality in Vietnam shows that female labourers have to work in poorer conditions than those of the opposite sex. Only 49.8% of female labourers in the group of salariats have signed labour contracts with their employers, while the percentage is 58.8% among men. In addition, in the sector of foreign-invested companies, the proportion of male labourers signing contracts of indefinite duration is at 73.91% in comparison to only 67.67% for females.
Labour experts say that gender inequality not only causes mental and physical damage to female labourers but also affects their families and society as a whole. According to a 2017 survey in the electronics assembly industry in the northern province of Bac Ninh, where female workers occupied 90% of the workforce, 71.8% of the female employees had to work over 30 hours a month and 54.5% worked more than 45 hours a month. At present, overtime income accounts for 32% of the total income and more than 50% of the average basic wage of labourers in the electronics industry. In other words, without working extra time, female employees would not be able to earn enough to cover their essential living needs.
According to a study carried out by Oxfam Vietnam in 2015, the female labourers working in industrial zones and export processing zones are migrant workers. As a result, migrant workers and their children have difficulty in accessing fundamental social security services. Specifically, up to 71% of migrant workers do not have access to public health services at their destinations, and 21.2% of the children aged between 6-14, who follow their parents to destinations, do not go to school. This is an alarming number concerning the situation of children failing to access the educational system. Only 7.7% of migrant children go to public kindergartens, and 12% of migrant children go to public preschools. The rest depend on private kindergartens or home-based child care groups.
According to Deborah Greenfield, ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, although gender equality policies in Vietnam have made significant progress and commitments aiming to further bridge the gender gap, the employment prospect for women is far from equal with men. In addition, labour experts have stated that the persistent challenges and obstacles for women will reduce the ability of societies to build economic growth paths along with social development. Therefore, eliminating gender gaps in employment should be a top priority if we want to achieve gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls by 2030.
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