Promoting female participation in labour market

Friday, 2019-03-22 17:17:21
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It is necessary to have policies to encourage and support female workers to improve the quality of jobs in agriculture (Illustrative image). (Photo: Nguyen Dang)
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NDO – In recent years, Vietnam has made great progress in strengthening the legal framework, perfecting the social security system, and the ability to access public services for people. However, women still face many challenges as social security policies and public services do not properly reflect their needs. It is noteworthy that the majority of female workers are working in informal sectors, making them deprived of access to social security policies.

Many barriers for women to join the labor market

Statistics of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs show that, in recent years, job creation for female workers has seen many positive changes. In 2018, among those who were created new jobs, female workers accounted for 48%. The number of female workers who go to work abroad and receive employment support in Vietnam has continuously increased. In 2017, the unemployment rate of female workers was 1.85%, lower than that of male workers. The models of vocational training support, job creation for female workers in rural and mountainous areas, and female emigrant workers continue to promote efficiency. The proportion of women in Vietnam joining the labour force is also high, roughly 71.55%, significantly higher than the corresponding rate of 61.1% and 49.6% in the East Asia - Pacific region and the world, respectively.

At a policy dialogue on gender equality with the theme "Improve social protection and public services to increase women's participation in the labour force", recently organised by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs with the United Nations (UN) in Vietnam, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha said that one of the important contents of social security is promoting sustainable jobs and developing the labour market. The labour market has made significant progress, attracting the participation of many female workers. However, the legal system and policies are still inadequate and incomplete, while the quality of employment is low. Currently, female workers mainly work in the agricultural and informal sectors, and jobs which do not require technical expertise, with low productivity, poor working conditions, and unstable income. The income of female workers is lower than that of male workers. The system of policies to support female workers in moving to industrial zones and urban areas is still lacking. Some regulations on supporting migrants are also limited. Violence against women, especially sexual harassment at work, continues.

In addition, according to a survey by the Institute for Community Health Development of Light (LIGHT) shows that the precarious work and the impact of the industrial revolution 4.0, makes it easy for female workers in factories to lose their jobs.

Due to compulsory social insurance policies only applied to workers with labor contracts most informal workers (mostly women) do not have access to the policy. The rate of informal workers without social insurance is 97.9%, the number of people paying compulsory social insurance is only about 2% and the number of people paying voluntary social insurance is 1.9%. Currently, the policy of voluntary social insurance has not yet attracted migrant workers, because of the period of insurance premiums payment is long, while the short-term regimes such as illness, accidents and maternity, which women workers need, is lacking. Access to social services and health services is also difficult, because nearly 90% of migrant workers (mostly women) in the informal sector are not participating in health insurance. According to Deputy Director of the Institute for Community Health Development of Light (LIGHT) Nguyen Thu Giang, currently, the voluntary social insurance policy has not attracted female migrant workers. She suggested that for women to participate more deeply in the labor market, voluntary social insurance policies for migrant workers should be supplemented accordingly.

Expanding opportunities to access and enhance social security

According to Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Head of Vietnam office of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), since 1997, Vietnam has participated in Convention No. 100 - Convention concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value. The 2013 Constitution, the 2006 Law on Gender Equality and the 2012 Labour Code are consistent with the goal of gender equality, including job opportunities. Therefore, Vietnam needs to continue implementing comprehensive solutions to achieve gender equality objectives, while promoting women to participate in the labor market.

Therefore, investing in sustainable welfare systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure must be considered essential contents in liberating women's time, supporting their movement, strengthening their access to educational, health, and economic opportunities, and increasing the ability to "cope" with difficulties in life for women.

In order to strengthen social security and public services to promote women to participate in the labour market, according to the Director of the Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Quang Vinh, it is necessary to revise the Labour Code so that it ensures equality on opportunities in the labour market for both men and women. Especially, it is necessary to eliminate gender prejudices in the labor market (jobs suitable for men and for women) and encourage vocational training to expand employment opportunities for female workers in the male sector still dominates. In addition, it is necessary to have policies to encourage and support female workers (middle-aged and ethnic minorities) to improve the quality of jobs in agriculture and support female labourers with professional qualifications to shift out of traditional agricultural areas.

In terms of state management, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Thi Ha said, in order to ensure fairness for female workers, the draft revised Labour Code has set a separate chapter with issues related to female workers. The draft proposes options for unilateral termination of the labour contract, if the employee is abused, sexually harassed or forced to work. In some cases, pregnant women may unilaterally terminate labour contracts. For employers, they do not have the right to unilaterally terminate contracts with employees who leave under the maternity regime, nor are they to be arranged to work at night or work overtime.