TACOMA, Washington — “Empowerment is heading in a direction where women are recognized and valued as workers and central to the economic success of their countries.” Colin Seeberger, Director of Media Relations for Center for American Progress, said. “It’s why you’re seeing a greater emphasis on caregiving, pay equity, and women’s civil and human rights both domestically and abroad.” Seeberger is one of the many voices who is seeing women’s empowerment soar throughout America and the world. Seeberger is part of American Progress, which focuses on poverty rates between males and females and tries to bridge the gap. There has been a special focus on women’s empowerment in Vietnam and India.
Small Beginnings in Vietnam
Another day, another 75 cents to the dollar. A classic tale of the wage gap between men and women in the workplace. This isn’t only happening in the American sphere of employment and economics. Women’s empowerment in Vietnam and India is starting to change. Vietnam has a population of 98 million, of which 50.6% are females. Oxfam International did a study in Vietnam that showed women get paid 11% less than men for similar job occupancy.
The gap isn’t one-layered as there is a multitude of degrees and higher-paying options for jobs. For example, in 2016, Oxfam also found an 8.1% gap in women and men who were untrained in the higher up workforce. For trained men and women with degrees, there was a 19.7% difference in pay.
With these stark statistics, Vietnam’s government understands the change that needs to occur for women empowerment to become a success. The Labor Code in Vietnam has given women protected rights. “The state shall enforce special labor regimes and social policies aimed at protecting women’s labor and certain types of specific labor,” according to the Labor code document.
Gender discrimination is another point of convection with the labor code as it states: The employer is not allowed to use female labor for heavy or dangerous jobs or jobs which necessitate exposure to noxious substances of harmful effects on the reproductive and child-rearing function of women. Despite this improvement, women still face gender stereotypes and bias in the workforce. Other improvements include maternity leave increasing to six months and tax reduction for higher female employees, according to the Vietnam briefing.
What’s the Situation in India?
In India, economic opportunity can lead to female empowerment. If India focuses on gender equality, projections suggest that India’s GDP will increase by $700 billion in 2025. This total is the equivalent of a 27% increase. The power women have in the market in India is stark with only 20% not having an influence on buying decisions. For the money, it adds up to US$20 trillion in consumption.
India has made steps in the right direction by enacting the Mahila Shakti Kendra in 2017. Kendra “empowered rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health, and nutrition.” The Mahila Shakti Kendras have worked with student volunteers in 115 most impoverished districts.
Reduction in Violence
Before the reduction of violence happened in India and Vietnam, the General Statistical Office performed a study in 2008. The study showed that 58% of women have experienced domestic violence at least once in their lifetime. A stark statistic is in the number of females who don’t speak about their domestic violence, therefore bridging the gap between domestic violence and help. The General Statistical Office also found that only 13% of women have sought professional help after an act of domestic violence.
Women’s empowerment in Vietnam and India isn’t complete without a reduction in violence. Women face violence in the workplace and violence at home. Non-profit organizations are tackling these issues, while also trying to find the source. Another service of NGOs is to provide funding for these issues, which CARE, an NGO, has done.
CARE, The Non-Profit Organization
This organization focuses on humanitarian work around the world, not only in Vietnam. Their website states their mission as follows: “CARE in Vietnam actively seeks to prevent gender-based violence and works with the garment industry to reduce sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.” Additionally, CARE has also put 90% of their expenses back into program service to help with gender-based violence.
India tested and implemented a work-based empowerment program (WBEP). Unfortunately, gender-based violence has been an issue in India for decades. WBMP is a module and training course that helps employees and employers understand the causes and effects of work-based violence. By implementing the policy, gender-based violence has been steadily decreasing.
Additionally, other nations are currently developing WBMP, which would help countries like Vietnam. Ending gender-based violence is a triumph for women’s empowerment in Vietnam and India. Being able to feel free and comfortable in one’s own identity and skin leads to empowerment and equality of genders and sexes. Women’s empowerment in Vietnam and India is seeing a steady rise but the climb will never be over. NGOs like CARE and Oxfam have given women the tools to take control of their own destiny. Throughout 2010-2011, Oxfam has helped 400,000 individuals in Vietnam. However, this is just the beginning.
– Ritchey Grant