Consideration of reports of States parties
and combined third and fourth periodic reports
The Committee considered the second periodic report (CEDAW/C/VNM/2)
and the combined third and fourth periodic reports (CEDAW/C/VNM/3-4)
of Viet Nam at its 518th and 519th meetings, on 11 July 2001
(see CEDAW/C/SR.518 and 519).
(a) Introduction by the State party
In introducing the reports, the representative of Viet Nam
noted that they described implementation of the Convention
from 1986 to 2000, during which period the country had experienced
profound change as a result of the comprehensive renewal process
initiated in 1986.
The representative informed the Committee that a 10-year strategy
for economic development and stabilization to 2000, which
sought to double gross domestic product by 2000, had been
adopted in 1991. Implementation of the plan had had significant
results in all areas; women's lives had been improved, and
their status in society and the family raised.
Equality and non-discrimination were enshrined in the Constitution
and promoted by the legal system through legislation and concrete
policies and plans of action. The right to equality before
the law had been reflected in laws in respect of, inter alia,
property, nationality and marriage and the family. Viet Nam
had ratified many United Nations human rights treaties and
several International Labour Organization conventions, including
Convention No. 100, on equal pay, and Convention No. 182,
on the worst forms of child labour. Women participated in
all areas of the workplace, where they enjoyed equal rights
with men with respect to remuneration, as well as health and
safety at work.
A national plan for the advancement of Vietnamese women had
been adopted, which had established the target of increasing
the representation of women in elected bodies to between 20
to 30 per cent, and to between 15 to 20 per cent in all levels
of administration, by 2000. The proportion of members of people's
councils who were women had increased, and was currently 22.5
per cent at the provincial level, 20.7 per cent at the district
level, and 16.3 per cent at the communal level. A proportion
of 26.22 per cent of parliamentarians in the current National
Assembly were women, compared with 18.5 per cent in the previous
Assembly, thereby placing Viet Nam ninth among the 135 members
of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in terms of women's representation,
and second in the Asian and Pacific region. Both the Vice-President
of the State and Vice-Chairperson of the National Assembly
were women, and women constituted 30 per cent of the staff
of the foreign service, and 25 per cent of those posted abroad.
The literacy rate among women and girls had reached 88 per
cent, and the population of female, compared with male, students
had been steadily increasing. Women had equal rights to health
care, and Viet Nam had been awarded a United Nations prize
for its achievements with regard to reproductive health care.
The average number of children per woman of reproductive age
had been reduced from 3.8 in 1989 to 2.3 in 1999, and the
maternal death rate from 1.1 per cent in 1996 to 0.9 per cent
The representative noted that the incorporation by the Government
of gender issues into socio-economic development programmes
had enhanced women's lives through, inter alia, providing
access to jobs, credits and loans. A bank for the poor had
been established, and assistance provided to the Women's Union
for the development of income-generating projects, which had
particularly helped rural and ethnic minority women living
in mountainous and remote areas.
In 1993, the National Commission for the Advancement of Women
had been established as the result of a decision of the Prime
Minister to provide advice on gender equality and the advancement
of women. The Commission had participated in the design and
implementation of national action plans for the advancement
of women and in the monitoring of law reform, and had elaborated
policies and programmes for the improvement of women's status.
Local committees had been established throughout Viet Nam
and cooperation between governmental bodies and non-governmental
organizations had increased.
In concluding her presentation, the representative drew attention
to the fact that Viet Nam was highly ranked in the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) human development index
and the gender-related development index. This was significant
in the light of the fact that Viet Nam continued to face difficulties,
inter alia, as a result of the vestiges of feudalism, war
and low economic development.
Despite the progress made, she indicated that there remained
obstacles to implementation of the Convention, including high
unemployment, polarization between rich and poor, social issues
such as prostitution, as well as trafficking of women, drug
abuse and sexually transmitted diseases. Domestic violence
was an issue and gender-bias customs lingered, causing a negative
impact on women's advancement. She indicated that the preparation
of the report had offered further opportunities to assess
the progress made and to enhance awareness and implementation
of the Convention.
(b) Concluding comments of the Committee
The Committee commends the Government of Viet Nam on its second
and combined third and fourth periodic reports, which are
in accordance with the Committee's guidelines for the preparation
of periodic reports. It also commends the Government for the
comprehensive written replies to the questions of the Committee's
pre-sessional working group, and the oral presentation of
the delegation, which sought to clarify the current situation
of women in Viet Nam and provided additional information on
the implementation of the Convention.
The Committee expresses its congratulations to the Government
for its high-level and large delegation. The Committee expresses
its appreciation for the positive approach of the delegation
and the frank and constructive dialogue that took place between
it and the Committee.
The Committee welcomes the recognition in Viet Nam of the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women and other treaties as binding legal instruments,
and the adoption of a procedure to monitor legislation to
ensure its conformity with international treaties. It commends
the introduction of a procedure to enforce the Constitutional
guarantee of equality.
The Committee commends the Government on the development and
strengthening of national mechanisms for advancement of women,
inter alia, at the local level, and the linkage of these mechanisms
with the Vietnamese Women's Union.
The Committee commends the Government for its allocation of
resources to achieve economic growth with social equity, thus
creating an enabling environment for the implementation of
the Convention. The Committee notes the progress achieved
and the relatively high ranking of the State party in the
UNDP human development index and gender development index.
The Committee notes with appreciation the measures of the
Government to eliminate poverty.
The Committee commends the Government on the preparation of
a national strategy for women (2001-2010) and a five-year
plan on the advancement of women (2001-2005), as recommended
in the Beijing Platform for Action. It notes with satisfaction
the inclusion of a gender perspective in the economic and
social development plan for 1991-2000.
Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the
The Committee considers that the country's ongoing economic
transformation poses special challenges to the realization
of gender equality -- in particular in the areas of women's
employment and education of girls and young women -- which
can undermine the progress achieved in realizing equality
between women and men. The Committee also considers that the
social development programme of the State party has been hampered
by the 1997 economic crisis in Asia and that continuing poverty
poses a significant obstacle to the implementation of the
The Committee notes that the persistence of a strong patriarchal
culture which emphasizes the traditional roles of women and
men constitutes an impediment to the full implementation of
Principal areas of concern and recommendations
The Committee expresses concern that patriarchal attitudes
and behaviour, reflected, inter alia, in women's inferior
role in the family, the non-recognition of women's work, son-preference
and men's failure to share household and family responsibilities,
are deeply entrenched.
The Committee recommends that the Government take urgent and
wide-ranging measures, including targeted educational programmes,
the revision of curricula and textbooks, and mass media campaigns,
to overcome traditional stereotypes regarding the role of
women and men in the society.
The Committee expresses concern about the low representation
of women in decision-making bodies in political and public
life at all levels.
The Committee recommends increasing the number of women in
decision-making at all levels and in all areas, including
macroeconomic policy. It also recommends that the State party
introduce temporary special measures, in accordance with article
4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, to strengthen its efforts
to promote women to positions of power, supported by special
training programmes and awareness-raising campaigns promoting
the importance of women's participation in decision-making
at all levels.
The Committee expresses concern that the existing national
machinery for the advancement of women does not have sufficient
strength and visibility or the human and financial resources
to sustain its efforts to ensure the advancement of women
and their equality with men.
The Committee recommends that the State party strengthen the
existing national machinery and give it more visibility and
the capacity to mainstream a gender perspective into all policies
and programmes and to promote the advancement of women. It
recommends that the capacity of the national machinery be
assessed on a continuous basis and that it be provided with
the necessary human and financial resources.
The Committee expresses concern about the considerable gap
between the State party's effort to ensure de jure equality
between women and men and the enjoyment by women of de facto
equality, in particular in economic, social and political
The Committee recommends that the State party monitor the
implementation of legal provisions that guarantee women de
jure equality so as to ensure that they benefit women de facto.
It urges the State party to introduce gender-sensitization
and training programmes for law-enforcement, judicial and
health personnel and others responsible for the implementation
of legislation, so that women's de facto enjoyment of equality
will be guaranteed.
The Committee expresses concern about the prevalence of violence
against women and, in particular, domestic violence. It also
expresses concern at the lack of legal and other measures
to address violence against women, as well as at the failure
of the State party specifically to penalize marital rape.
It further expresses concern that penalties for child sex
abuse are low, that there is a prevalence of forced and child
marriage, and that cruelty does not constitute grounds for
divorce. It expresses concern that there is an overemphasis
on reconciliation in cases of marital breakdown, including
those in which violence has occurred.
The Committee urges the State party to implement general recommendation
No. 19 of the Committee, on violence against women, and to
ensure that all forms of violence against women and girls
constitute crimes and that victims are provided with protection
and redress. The Committee urges the criminalization of marital
rape and close scrutiny of requirements for reconciliation
in cases of marital breakdown, in particular those in which
violence is involved. It recommends organizing gender training
for all public officials, in particular law-enforcement personnel,
the judiciary and members of local committees, on violence
against women and girls, and the launch of public awareness
campaigns on all forms of violence against women and girls
and the impact of such violence.
While recognizing the State party's efforts to address trafficking
of women and girls, the Committee expresses concern that the
State party has not ensured collection of sufficient statistical
data and information on this issue. It also expresses concern
that the impact of existing legal provisions and other measures
on the elimination of trafficking has not been assessed and
that law enforcement in the area of trafficking is weak.
The Committee urges the State party to collect comprehensive
statistics and information on trafficking of women and girls,
and on the impact of the measures taken to address this problem,
and to include this information in its next periodic report.
It recommends that the State party collaborate in regional
and international strategies to confront trafficking and monitor,
and where appropriate apply, the positive experience of other
countries in this context. It also recommends the adoption
of measures aimed at improving the economic situation of women
in order to reduce their economic vulnerability to traffickers,
and the creation of comprehensive rehabilitative programmes
for women and girls who have been subject to such trafficking.
While recognizing the efforts made by the Government to reduce
disparities and improve the status of ethnic minorities, the
Committee expresses concern about their situation.
The Committee recommends that the Government provide more
statistical data and information on the situation of ethnic
minority women in its next periodic report.
Despite the State party's efforts and the progress made with
regard to primary and secondary education, the Committee expresses
concern about the high female drop-out rate from schools,
and particularly higher education, in rural areas. The Committee
notes that the increase in the rate has coincided with the
transformation to a market economy, and expresses concern
that the gains that have been made by the State party in regard
to women's and girls' education may not be sustained.
The Committee encourages the State party to intensify its
efforts to promote the access of women and girls to higher
education and their retention in the system. It recommends
that the State party provide incentives to parents in order
to encourage them to ensure that their daughters attend school.
While noting a decline in women's mortality rate, the Committee
nevertheless expresses concern at the status of women's health,
especially women's reproductive health, and the high rate
of abortion among young unmarried women. It also expresses
concern about the persistence of stereotypical attitudes with
respect to women's health concerns, especially contraception
which appears to be regarded as the sole responsibility of
women, as well as the increased incidence of HIV/AIDS, malaria
and tuberculosis among women.
The Committee urges the Government to maintain free access
to basic health care and to continue to improve its family
planning and reproductive health policy, inter alia, through
making modern contraceptive methods widely available, affordable
and accessible. The Committee also urges the Government to
promote sex education for both boys and girls, paying special
attention to HIV/AIDS prevention.
Noting that 80 per cent of women in Viet Nam live in rural
areas, the Committee expresses concern that they have limited
access to health-care services, education and income-generating
The Committee recommends that the State party pay greater
attention to the situation of rural women and develop special
policies and programmes aimed at their economic empowerment,
ensuring their access to credit, health-care services, educational
and social opportunities and productive resources. It also
calls for more information on this subject in the next report.
The Committee expresses concern that the retirement ages for
women and men differ and that this has negative effects on
women's economic well-being. It also expresses concern that
the retirement age is negatively affecting the access of rural
women to land.
The Committee recommends that the State party review the existing
legal provisions regarding the retirement age of women and
men, with a view to ensuring that women are entitled to continue
productive employment on an equal basis with men. The Committee
also recommends that the State party evaluate the present
Land Law and eliminate any provisions which discriminate,
directly or indirectly, against women.
The Committee notes with concern the lack of information on
segregation by sex in the labour market. The Committee is
also concerned that the impact of incentives to encourage
the employment of women has not been assessed.
The Committee calls upon the State party to increase its efforts
to collect statistics and information on the position of women
and men in the labour market, especially in the private sector.
The Committee urges the Government to sign and ratify the
Optional Protocol to the Convention and to deposit, as soon
as possible, its instrument of acceptance of the amendment
to article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention, concerning
the meeting time of the Committee.
The Committee requests the Government to respond to the concerns
expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic
report submitted under article 18 of the Convention.
The Committee requests the wide dissemination in Viet Nam
of the present concluding comments in order to make the people
of Viet Nam, in particular governmental administrators and
politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure
de jure and de facto equality for women and of the further
steps that are required in this regard. It requests the Government
to continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women's
and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional
Protocol, the Committee's general recommendations, the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action and the results of the
twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled
"Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in
the twenty-first century".