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Joint efforts needed to end norms depreciating female values: UNFPA
Minh Vu 15:41, 2022/10/06
The preference for having a son remains a pervasive form of gender inequality and discrimination in African countries, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Asia, and Vietnam.

The importance of joint efforts in curbing son preference and gender-based sex selection in several countries, including Vietnam, is on the agenda at a policy dialogue held in Hanoi on October 4-6.

Bjorn Andersson, Regional Director for UNFPA Asia and the Pacific, addresses the policy dialogue held in Hanoi on Oct 4-6. Photos: UNFPA 

“We must address social norms that diminish the value of girls and women and support national and community efforts to address preference for sons and sex selection,” Bjorn Andersson, Regional Director for UNFPA Asia and the Pacific.

He said son preference is an issue of gender inequality and a violation of human rights. For that reason, it’s encouraging to see many experts, government officials, and civil society representatives coming together to share their knowledge and learnings.

“The gathering also reinforces the importance of south-south collaboration in promoting gender equality and rights and ending gender-based discrimination and harmful practices,” added Andersson.

Gender-biased sex selection has far-reaching harmful impacts on societies, including increased maternal deaths, sexual violence, imbalanced sex ratios, and human trafficking.

The three-day event marked the participation of ambassadors and representatives from Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden, and different stakeholders, namely decision-makers, experts, and civil society representatives from eight countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Georgia, India, Nepal, and Vietnam.

 Vice Minister of Vietnam’s Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLIA) Nguyen Thi Ha speaks at the event. 

Speaking at the event, Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLIA) Nguyen Thi Ha said that in Vietnam, gender equality is a cross-cutting issue in all the guidelines and is part of the country’s socio-economic development strategy.

She noted, "Vietnam has issued policies and legal frameworks as well as many solutions and interventions to address gender-biased sex selection.”

Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam Hilde Solbakken at the event.  

Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam Hilde Solbakken said her embassy had supported UNFPA’s Global Program to Prevent Son Preference and the Undervaluing of Girls to address this issue in Vietnam.

"Norway prioritises its development policies to strengthen and defend global norms against harmful practices and to promote the rights of girls and women," she said.

UNFPA’s response focuses on tackling gender inequality – the root cause of son preference – by working with partners at all levels, from policymakers to individuals and communities, to bring about behavior and policy change.

 Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam. 

“We have created a movement by setting up policy and legal frameworks, introducing innovative and communication activities geared towards behavioural change driven by young people, and providing integrated services,” said Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative in Vietnam.

On the third day of the gathering, the participants will visit Bac Giang Province to learn how the Vietnam Farmers’ Union is tackling gender-biased sex selection through the ‘Fatherhood Program’, a UNFPA-supported innovative strategy to engage young men in building healthy family relationships in the country.

The three-day event is part of efforts to foster concerted action to address son preference – a pervasive form of gender inequality and discrimination in several countries in Asia, the Balkans and the Caucasus, and Africa. According to the State of World Population Report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2020, more than 140 million females are considered ‘missing’ due to the preference for sons over daughters globally.

 Participants at the event. 
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