March 8 unites women globally

International Women's Day flowers in VietnamBy Penny Mulvey
in Ho Chi Minh City

“Happy women’s day!” was the warm greeting I received as I appeared for breakfast. The men buy floral displays for the women in their lives and allegedly spend the day doing the home duties the women undertake the other 365 days in a leap year.

But of course there is a much more serious meaning behind the flowers and jokes around women ‘being lazy and drinking beer’. Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) hosted an international conference last Saturday to discuss how to improve the proportion of females in leadership positions in politics and in business.

The conference, organised by the HCMC Association for Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (HAWEE), was told that women should be given a chance to prove themselves.

Tôn Nu Thi Ninh, vice chairperson of Vietnam’s Peace Committee, said more women should be in leadership positions to manage the country because they are worthy.

“But they lack one thing,” Ms Ninh said. “That thing is a chance. Men should be unbiased towards women.”

There are now three women in Vietnam’s Politburo, but the percentage of women in the Party Central Committee remains at 10 per cent. While women often outperform men at university, the conference was told they are not promoted at work because they are responsible for all of the housework.
international women's day in vietnam

The following day, more than 5,000 people joined a rally in HCMC’s district 7 to promote awareness for the development of women.

HAWEE, the organisers of the walk, sought to raise funds for disadvantaged women in the city.

At the conclusion of the conference, the Australian Consulate General and HAWEE signed an agreement on cultural and educational exchange and cooperation in female leadership and enterprises.

For the women of Vietnam, flowers might be a nice gesture. But in this patriarchal society, they still do all the hard work, and there are still serious concerns relating to female infanticide. Vietnamese statisticians predict that by 2030 there will be 2.5 million more young men than women.

Women’s issues are humanity’s issues. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

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