National knowledge contest on gender equality in agriculture
In Vietnam, gender issues have received increasing attention in the agricultural domain. In its Gender Equality Action Plan for 2016-2020, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) expressed its commitment to address gender equality in the agricultural sector. In addition, gender mainstreaming has been increasingly considered in various agricultural projects. As the organisation in charge of the agricultural domain, it is crucially important for MARD to raise awareness on gender equality among staff and increase gender mainstream in the different departments and institutions. On 22 June, MARD and SNV organised a national contest to raise awareness on the importance of gender equality in agriculture amongst its leaders, key officers and practitioners.
The conference was of the activities planned under the 2016-2020 cooperation framework between SNV and MARD in the field of climate-smart agriculture, energy, women’s economic empowerment, and particularly under the "Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises (EOWE)" programme. The organisers of the workshop opted for a creative approach in the form of a contest to raise awareness around gender equality and to reflect on the importance of gender in agriculture. Six judges, including Mr. Nguyen Cong Nhue (SNV Gender Advisor), assisted to different performances, quizzes and music performances organised around these topics.
The event saw the participation of more than 200 participants from 29 departments and institutions belonging to MARD, several provincial DARDs, international organisations and other stakeholders, including Mr. Nguyen Minh Nhan (Deputy Director of the Committee for the Advancement of Women), Mr. Nguyen Van Truong (Chairman of the Ministry’s Trade Union), Mr. Chu Van Chuong (Deputy Director of Ministry’s ICD), Ms. Alison Rusinow, (SNV Vietnam Country Director) and Ms. Tran Tu Anh (SNV Climate Smart Agriculture & Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme Manager).
The event provided a platform for the participants to show their knowledge and to discuss gender inequality. Including discrimination in the recruitment process, domestic violence and inequality in decision-making processes. The discussion was then linked to the opportunities provided by the Law on Gender Equality and the Gender Equality Action Plan for the agricultural sector, and to the mandate of each department under MARD. In fact, each department discussed how their work can be gender-sensitised and contribute to common goals such as women in leadership and women involved in decision-making in both households and agricultural sector.
Vietnam is an agriculture-based country with approximately 57% of the workforce working in the agriculture sector. Yet although the female labor force participation rate has been rising, rural women have less access and control over food and income. The baseline studies of SNV’s EOWE Programme show how gender norms and intra-household power relations influence women’s control over resources and decision-making in their households and communities. Women are expected to participate in income generating activities as well as taking care of their families and households, working an average of 4.1 hours per day on household tasks in comparison to men’s 1.1 hours per day. This together with the lack of decision making power, influences their participation in income-generating activities, profitable businesses and trade associations.
“The question is not: should we work on gender? The question is: why should we not work on gender? And not: what will it cost? But: what will it generate in terms of economic and social benefits?” said SNV Vietnam Country Director in her opening speech.