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According to the government’s report on the implementation of the National Strategy on Gender Equality (NSGE) 2011-2020, the national goals on gender equality have been implemented quite well, creating evident changes in the awareness and actions of authorities and people on gender equality.
Young journalists and communications officers at a training course on gender and gender equality
However, this report, along with many other studies, has also shown that gender inequality still exists in all fields and regions in Vietnam. The root cause of this issue is the limited awareness and capacity to act on gender and gender equality. Specifically, gender stereotypes are still quite prominent, while there is a lack of understanding of the systematic nature of discrimination, power structures, and patriarchy, and a lack of knowledge and skills to eliminate gender inequality.
Journalists and communications officers with their press and media products have been having a great influence on the community, especially young people. However, the lack of ability and awareness on the aforementioned gender and gender equality issues creates a limitation for these subjects. Also, they have yet to have a deep understanding of relevant international norms and standards, the legal framework on human rights/women’s rights, as well as the gender equality context of Asia. As a result, many of their press and media products have reinforced gender stereotypes and contributed to perpetuating gender inequality.
This reality is also a common problem of other countries in Asia. Therefore, many cooperation networks and joint action programmes among agencies, organisations, and experts have been born, including the Asian Gender Trainers’ Network Program (AGenT) of the Korea Institute for Gender Equality Promotion and Education. “The AGenT Small Grant Program’s purpose is to promote Asian gender equality through on and off-site training/execution support for AGenT graduates,” said Chayoung Son, programme manager of International Cooperation Center KIGEPE.
Implementing training programmes on gender-sensitive communications is not just the responsibility of training institutions or authorities. In fact, many Vietnamese and international community development organisations have been working together to promote the role and ability of young journalists and communications officers on this issue.
Recently, the “Gender and Gender Equality with Young Journalists and Communications Officers” programme conducted by For Vietnamese Stature Foundation (VSF) has helped nearly 30 participants have positive changes in their awareness, attitudes, and abilities to create gender-sensitive communications products. This is the initiative of the VSF which has surpassed 12 other proposals in the Asia region and was funded by the Small Grant Program of AGenT – KIGEPE.
“KIGEPE’s technical and financial support through AGenT has significant meaning to the promotion of gender equality in many countries, including Vietnam. The VSF as a member of AGenT has been building a network of influential people to eliminate gender stereotypes,” said Tran Hong Diep, deputy director of the VSF, the training programme’s facilitator.
Within the framework of the programme, the forum “Gender-sensitive Communications – Reality and Our Actions” was conducted. The forum aims to discuss the stereotypes and social norms commonly encountered in press and communications products, as well as to share the practical experiences learned while working.
At the forum, Nguyen Ba Khai, representative from the Youth Communication Group on Gender and Gender Equality, talked about the “Women Care” communication campaign, which was inspired by the VSF’s training course. The campaign launched on the occasion of Vietnamese Women’s Day on October 20 includes communications activities about gender equality and eliminating gender stereotypes on the Facebook platform. Through opening debate forums on topics such as “Men build houses, women build homes”, launching websites, podcasts, talk shows, the campaign has received the attention of many young people, thereby contributing to raising awareness on this issue.
Other participants also talked about how they have changed after the training programme. They have become more careful in developing topics, interviewing characters, and preparing materials needed for articles and media campaigns. For example, when interviewing female members of the National Assembly, they now focus on the working ability and the desire to make changes of the interviewees instead of their appearances or family matters; or they have made recommendations to hospital managers on building the images of the hospital having both male and female nurses.
Creating gender-sensitive communications is an effortful and time-consuming process. The fact that young journalists and communications officers have changed their perspectives, as well as the way they develop press and media products, is the first successful step of the program. In the coming time, the VSF will continue to accompany and connect with journalists and communications officers to carry out communication activities to eliminate gender stereotypes and promote gender equality in Vietnam.