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Towards Gender Equality in Vietnam: Making Inclusive Growth Work for Women

UN Women




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Towards Gender Equality in Vietnam: Making Inclusive Growth Work for Women

Towards Gender Equality in Vietnam: Making Inclusive Growth Work for Women

The Towards Gender Equality in Vietnam: Making Inclusive Growth Work for Women report from UN Women analyses Vietnam’s economy through a gender lens. Drawing a comprehensive gender-disaggregated statistical picture of selected economic sectors, the report analyses the distribution of productive resources across different groups of women and men; gender segmentation in the labour market; and female workers’ working conditions and pay. The study also assesses Vietnam’ policy framework and provides recommendations to better realise women’s potential livelihoods more secure, be they small-scale farmers, domestic paid workers, or garment factory workers.

As Vietnam is taking steps to integrate further into the global markets, it will be vital to continue paying attention to the possible gender implications of these economic developments. Further trade liberalisation is likely to cause both gains and losses and will affect different groups of women and men in different ways. This will require complementary and targeted policies to ensure that women can fully reap the benefits of new economic opportunities. Only a model of economic growth that is fully inclusive can create the foundation for the full realisation of women’s and men’s rights.

The approach adopted by the study involves two main steps. The first step is to examine the economic structure of Vietnam in detail, through statistics, and identify where gender gaps are more persistent, that is, to describe the economy as a gendered structure. The second step is to analyse a selection of policies to assess whether at present Vietnam’s economic strategy is contributing to reduce or intensify such gender gaps. This study offers the first comprehensive statistical gender map of Vietnam’s economy of its kind and an initial scoping of key policy issues. These together provide a sound base for any gender impact assessment of specific aspects of Vietnam’s macroeconomic policies or sectoral policies that the Government may want to develop in the future.


  • The last decade has seen little change in the structure of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP), but a substantial change in the structure of employment, away from agriculture and towards manufacturing and services, which suggests slow growth in labour productivity in these sectors.
  • Agriculture remains the employer of about half of the labour force and is by far the main source of livelihoods for ethnic minorities. This is in contrast to many of Vietnam’s South-East Asian neighbours including Thailand and Indonesia, where the share of the female (and male) labour force in agriculture is smaller.
  • Female employment in manufacturing is growing at a faster pace than male employment. Low labour productivity in this sector has gender connotations.
  • More women than men are in vulnerable employment. In particular, the gender gap in vulnerable employment is particularly high for older workers.
  • There are significant spatial and ethnic gender inequalities in Vietnamese agriculture, which have not changed since 2008.
  • Agriculture is a more important source of livelihood for women than for men in the north but not in the south.
  • In the Northern Midlands and the Central Highlands, three quarters of women work in agriculture compared to only one quarter in the South-East.
  • A large share of women farmers work as ‘unpaid family workers’, which is the most vulnerable form of employment.
  • The level of gender segregation in paid employment is high. Reflecting similar patterns in other parts of the world, in manufacturing, women cluster in the garment and footwear industry; in services, they cluster in trade, hotel and restaurants, education and paid domestic work
  • The main export-oriented sectors in manufacturing are female-intensive. Either they were female-intensive to start with (garments), or are increasingly becoming so (electronics and vehicle parts).


  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. The Vietnamese Economy as a Gendered Structure
  • Chapter 3. Strengthening Women’s Position in Paid Work
  • Chapter 4. Reducing and Redistributing Unpaid Domestic Work and Care: A Crosscutting
  • Chapter 5. Connecting the Dots: Does Vietnam’s Current Economic Growth Model Enable the Government to Realise Its Commitment to Gender Equality?
  • Annex 1
  • References
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