With the support of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southeast Asia, the Institute for Scientific Socialism – Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration (NAPA−IS) conducted a survey researching about women’s participation in political activities. The research area focused on ethnic women in mountainous provinces – northern part of Vietnam.
In Lao Cai province, the research team met with different levels of local government and its people. According to the officials, Lao Cai has 25 ethnic groups in which Kinh and H’mong are the majority. The government here has the policy of encouraging ethnic women’s participation at the office. Also, women grasp some important positions in Lao Cai’s local government (for instance: Chairwoman of Civil Mobilization Committee, Supervision Committee; Department of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs; Women’s Union, Youth Union; etc.). Commenting on their performance, the officials all agreed that women can run work effectively and there is no discrimination between men and women in the office, ethnic women even get more attention and favour.
In contrary, women are responsible for most of family works, motherhood, and under a lot of pressures; they are struggling to balance between office’s work with family’s work. Also, the cultural prejudice is one of the main reasons that prevent women raising their voice in political activities.
There is a fact that the Government’s raising awareness campaigns have not got so much impact so far, prejudices still are the main hardships. Overall, the officials thought that women need to build up their capacity and be more confident in them.
Meeting with Lao Cai’s people in remote villages, they were very passionate and interested in the survey’s topic. The people here all wanted to increase women’s role in local government. Surprisingly, both men and women agreed that women can do better job than men, that they have a lot of potentials to develop. Women are even more dynamic participating in local meetings or trainings than men. Asking about whether they – women – always listen to whatever their husband’s decisions is, the women here are against it, they will follow when the decisions are right, suitable and oppose when it is wrong. They all agreed that female officials must be highly educated, active and devoted.
On the other hand, there is a fact that a lot of husbands prevent their wives from doing or becoming local officials. Traditional prejudice withdraws women from taking part in social activities; allowing them only to be the ‘good soul’ at home. And again, family work, children, poor education and their shyness also cause them to be more disadvantaged compared to men.
With this survey, NAPA-IS’ experts could learn practical information from a diverse range of interviewees, their different opinions and perspectives.A lot of information was given to the experts contributing to raise women’s role in the policy making process. The research about women’s participation in politics should definitely be continued. Following this trip, NAPA-IS team will conduct the same surveys in Bac Kan and Hoa Binh provinces.