1 July 2020 | Report

Men and Masculinities in a Globalising Viet Nam


This report summarises the findings of the research on men and masculinities in a globalising Vietnam carried out by the Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS) in 2019 – 2020. It is the first large-scale study on men and masculinities in Viet Nam conducted through a survey and interviews with more than 2,500 working age men, living in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city, Khanh Hoa, and Hoa Binh.
In carrying out this report, ISDS intended to fill a gap in the knowledge and evidence base on gender norms and women’s economic empowerment in Vietnam. Research on gender in Vietnam has focused mainly on women, leaving men out of the picture. The report is seen to inform policies and programmes that support gender equality, men’s health and women’s economic empowerment.
Key Points
Strong traditional gender norms persist in Vietnam despite globalisation and urbanisation.
In Vietnam, masculinity is still strongly associated with men’s ability to work or carry out economic activity and therefore the role of primary income earner for the family—as the “pillar of the home.” This leads to serious pressure on men, which may be linked to observed mental health concerns.
Corollary to this, feminine norms continue to revolve around the perception that a woman’s primary role is to care for the family and to be a “good wife”—one who is “willing to suffer and sacrifice for the family” and supports her husband’s career, even at the expense of her own.
Traditional gender norms are deeply rooted in the biological essentialist point of view that capability, attitudes and behaviours of women and men are predetermined by nature and are unchangeable.
Traditional gender norms are still passed on across generations.
Vietnamese men are exposed from an early age to traditional masculine norms and other practices of gender inequality. These are reinforced by the norms embedded in several aspects of their daily lives and in societal structures. For example, men are still often the sole owners of properties or assets.
Men’s internalisation of traditional gender norms dictates their attitude and expectations toward their sons and daughters. For example, men prioritise education and jobs that bring high income. For their daughter, priorities are family and jobs that bring less pressure and allow more time for the family.
There are pockets of opportunity to leverage globalisation and urbanisation to shift gender norms.
Men’s interest in social trends, including in technology, modern hobbies and health, and their active participation in social life, including social media, to increase their social capital, provide opportunities for creative communication campaigns encouraging positive gender attitude and practices.
There are indications of emerging support for support for gender equality in young men, especially the urban population. They are willing to share with their wives the ownership of property or assets with their wives, the responsibility to make decisions for the family and the burden of housework.
Executive summary
Contemporary Viet Nam
The need of studying men and masculinities in a Globalising Viet Nam
Studies on men and masculinities
Theoretical background
Research methodology
Research questions
Key concepts
Research design and tool development
Limitations of the data
Research findings
Socio-demographic profile of studied men
Gender socialization
Being a man in viet nam – reflection of masculinity
Internalised gender norms and stereotypes
Men’s perceptions of women and gender equality
Factors influencing gender norms
This report was originally published on the ISDS website.


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