As many as 5,000 poor and vulnerable women in Vietnam would benefit from a one-year project against the Covid-19 impact launched on August 2 by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the Government of Japan.
Representatives at the launch of the project supported by UN Women and the Government of Japan. Photo: UN Women
The project “Gender-Responsive Covid-19 Prevention and Response” is aimed to reduce the risks and negative impacts of Covid-19 on women and girls with a priority given to migrant workers, ethnic minorities, people working in the informal sector, and those living in disaster-prone areas in 9 provinces and cities including Hanoi, Danang, Dien Bien, Ha Tinh, Ho Chi Minh City, Tien Giang, Nghe An, Thai Binh, and Lao Cai.
Apart from receiving the Covid-19 prevention kits, which include test kits, medical masks, and antibacterial gel, the beneficiaries will also be equipped with the necessary skills to prevent and respond to Covid-19, disasters, gender-based violence, and information about the available support services.
Women survivors of gender-based violence at shelters and the Peace House will be supported in Covid-19 medical examinations and treatment.
The project is part of a regional project implemented in four Mekong countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam by UN Women Asia-Pacific, with financial support from the Japanese Government.
With the Japanese Government’s priority concern for people living in the Mekong Sub-region in Vietnam, interventions are also designed to improve the quality of gender-responsive services and the capacity of staff working at Migrant Resource Centers, Vietnam Women’s Union at all levels, and social organizations in the nine localities.
Elisa Fernandez Saenz, Country Representative of UN Women Vietnam, stressed the need for the project, saying: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, in Vietnam, many women have suffered from loss of employment, reduced household income, inadequate housing, lack of life-saving support and services, limited social protection measures, as well as increased stress at home, along with unacceptable high levels of intimate partner violence.”
She told The Hanoi Times that emerging evidence over the past year confirmed that the pandemic had a regressive effect on gender equality. In addition, Asia and the Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world, with 75% of disaster-affected populations living in the region. As countries cope with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, they also grapple with the reality of exposure to multiple, severe natural hazards, and the potential of a double disaster.
Due to Covid-19, women’s labor force participation fell from 70.9% in 2019 to 62.3% in 2021. In addition, Covid-19 contributed to a reduction in working hours for women, and the loss of jobs across manufacturing and services.
Covid-19 prevention remains important for women and girls. Photo: UNICEF
A rapid assessment conducted by UNICEF, UNFPA, and UN Women with the support of the Government of Australia in 2021 found that women and children in particular were at greater risk during the period of social isolation. The study found that in Vietnam, more than one in three women experienced at least one form of violence during the pandemic period, with more women reporting experiencing controlling behaviors and economic violence.
“We are very pleased that UN Women will take the lead in implementing a gender-responsive Covid-19 response and prevention project. We hope that this project presents an opportunity for restructuring and creating a ‘new normal' in which no one is left behind,” said Sasaki Shohei, Second Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Vietnam.
As the representative of the project’s local partners, Hoang Thi Thu Huong, Chairwoman of the Danang Women’s Union highly appreciated UN Women’s timely support in Covid-19 gender-responsive responses as equipping women, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups with Covid-19 prevention information and supplies, is essential, mostly in the context that many people might have let their guard down while the pandemic continues going on.