|Empowering Women |
According to Decree No.135/2020/ND-CP on the retirement age of workers and employees issued by the government at the end of 2020 and officially enacted from the beginning of 2021, the retirement age of female workers and employees is 55 years and four months, which is increased by four months till 60 years of age by reaching 2035.
This new regulation has created equal conditions for women, whether they are employees or business owners, who have good health and the capacity to contribute to society. This not only demonstrates Vietnam’s efforts in the process of implementing gender equality over the past years, but also recognises, appreciates, and creates a favourable environment for women to develop and increase their influence in work environment, coupled with their special roles in family.
The future is female
At the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Forum held late last year, Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that although the pandemic has gravely wounded the global economy, women-owned businesses employing female workers have overcome their difficulties and made important contributions to controlling the pandemic while maintaining economic growth. Therefore, women are important contributors in determining the future of the economy.
Elisa Fernandez Saenz, head representative of United Nations Women in Vietnam said, “Women account for half of the population. An economy that underutilises women’s talents is missing out half of the available human resources. Making use of the full potential of women’s economic participation reflects not only social and corporate responsibilities but also smart economics.”
In Vietnam, women and particularly female entrepreneurs have gradually demonstrated their strength and resilience since the late 1970s as they successfully steered their businesses over the challenges in economic crises. By 2020, despite facing a severe pandemic, Vietnam has still more than 200,000 women-owned businesses, accounting for a quarter of the total nationwide. Notably, 30 per cent of micro and small-sized businesses are owned by women, while 50 per cent of women are currently owning household businesses.
In some large enterprises or multinational corporations with offices in Vietnam, women in key positions account for a significant proportion of 36 per cent listed in Women in Business report 2019 by Grant Thornton International. The first generation of Vietnamese businesswomen since doi moi, such as Nguyen Thi Nga, chairwoman of BRG Group; Thai Huong, founder of TH Group; and Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, CEO of Vietjet; as well as the next generation of businesswomen like Le Thi Hoang Yen, general director of Muong Thanh Hospitality, or Nguyen Ngoc My, general director of Alphanam Real Estate JSC, show their influence in the business arena.
Sharing about Vietjet’s astonishing recovery from the pandemic, a Vietjet representative reaffirmed that the secret behind this recovery lies in the flexible and appropriate decisions from female leaders. Although the aviation industry suffered the heaviest damage and has the lowest proportion of female leaders (only about 3 per cent), Vietjet is now one of the rare airlines with the head of the Board of Directors and general director being female. They have inspired, spread enthusiasm, and helped Vietjet to quickly overcome the consequences of COVID-19.
Several other companies, such as Nestlé Vietnam, also reported that they have been fostering women’s empowerment for many years, with 55 per cent of women holding positions in the Board of Directors. At other management levels, women holding management positions also account for approximately 50 per cent.
Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, chairwoman of the Vietnam Woman Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC) said, “The economy will not be able to promote sustainable development without women’s active, responsible, and creative participation.”
Influencing other areas
In addition to leading businesses and taking care of the lives of workers, many Vietnamese businesswomen actively participate in community activities, spreading and sharing positive energy through meaningful work. They are the bridge connecting businesses with disadvantaged groups, creating a positive influence on society, thereby enhancing the role and position of Vietnamese businesswomen.
According to Ha Thi Nga, president of the Vietnam Women’s Union, women are present in most jobs and hold many important positions. The proportion of women in the Vietnamese National Assembly has reached 27.1 per cent, higher than the world’s and Asia’s average at 23.4 per cent and 18.6 per cent, respectively.
In education, training, and healthcare, female cadres make up a large proportion, many with high qualifications. The proportion of female scientists has also increased year by year, with 44.2 per cent master’s degree holders and 28 per cent of PhDs being female.
In addition to the economic sector, more and more women are becoming popular politicians, scientists, and social activists. It is not uncommon to hear about emotional stories about women who have devoted all their time and money to building great charity funds, contributing to narrowing social gaps and supporting many other people in difficult circumstances.