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Gender

East Asia and Pacific countries can do better in labor regulation and social protection

Truman Packard's picture

Those unfamiliar with the fast growing emerging economies of East Asia are likely to think that governments in these countries let market forces and capitalism roam free, red in tooth and claw. That was certainly my impression before coming to work in the region, and generally that held at the outset of our work by the group of us that wrote a new World Bank report “East Asia Pacific At Work: Employment, Enterprise and Wellbeing” .

The report shows just how wrong we were. We could be forgiven this impression—many of us had come from assignments in Latin America and the Caribbean or in Europe and Central Asia, where the distortions and rigidities from labor regulation and poorly designed social protection are rife, and where policy makers cast envious looks at the stellar and sustained employment outcomes in East Asia.

Well, it turns out that although they came relatively late to labor regulation and social protection, many governments in the region have entered this arena with gusto. We were surprised to find that, going just by what is written in their labor codes, the average level of employment protection in East Asia is actually higher than the OECD average.

What will it take to inspire women’s leadership in the Pacific Islands?

Alison Ofotalau's picture


On gender equality – it is no secret that the Pacific Islands is lagging.

The region is home to some of the world’s highest domestic violence rates. Economic empowerment of women in many countries, particularly in Melanesia, is desperately low. Women lack access to finance, land, jobs and income. In my country, Solomon Islands, there is only one woman in parliament, and there are none in Vanuatu and Federated States of Micronesia – a country which has never yet seen a woman elected.

Does Women’s Leadership in Vietnam Matter?

Victoria Kwakwa's picture
Also available in: Tiếng Việt
High primary enrollment ratios for girls and impressive female labour force participation rates are two striking examples of Vietnam’s progress on gender equality. On female leadership, however, Vietnam has a huge unfinished agenda. The good news is that a recent study by Grant Thornton (2013) shows women’s leadership in business is growing and 30 percent of Board of Director roles in Vietnam are held by women compared to the global average of 19 percent. Women’s membership in the Communist Party has also risen from over 20 percent in 2005 to more than 30 percent in 2010.   The not so good news is that across business, government and political spheres, the face of leadership in Vietnam is still overwhelmingly male. 

In the last decade and a half, the share of women in the National Assembly has been declining. Only one out of nine chairs of National Assembly Committees is female. Women’s representation remains low in key bodies of the Communist Party: the Politburo (two out of 16), the Central Committee and the Secretariat.  In Government, the civil service has a large percentage of women but their representation in leadership is small and tends to be at lower levels: 11 percent at the division level, 5 percent at director level and only 3 percent at ministerial level (UNDP, 2012).

But should we be concerned about getting higher levels of women in leadership? Is this just about “political correctness” or can having more women in leadership in business, government and politics benefit Vietnam’s development?
 

Vai trò lãnh đạo của phụ nữ tại Việt Nam quan trọng như thế nào?

Victoria Kwakwa's picture
Also available in: English

Việt nam đã đạt được những tiến bộ rất đáng khích lệ trong bình đẳng giới như tỉ lệ đi học của trẻ em gái và tỉ lệ của lao động nữ trong lực lượng lao động rất cao. Cuối năm 2013 chúng ta có một tin vui là một nghiên cứu của Grant Thornton, cho thấy phụ nữ Việt nam ngày càng nắm nhiều vị trí lãnh đạo trong các doanh nghiệp. Tỉ lệ nữ trong hội đồng quản trị tại các doanh nghiệp Việt Nam là 30% trong khi tỉ lệ trung bình toàn cầu là 19%. Tỉ lệ đảng viên nữ trong Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam cũng tăng từ 25% năm 2005 lên 30% năm 2010. Tuy vậy, đa số các vị trí lãnh đạo doanh nghiệp, chính quyền và đời sống chính trị vẫn là nam giới. Xét chung về vai trò của phụ nữ trên các cương vị lãnh đạo thì còn nhiều việc cần làm.  

Tỉ lệ nữ trong Quốc hội giảm dần trong thập niên vừa qua. Trong số 9 người đứng đầu các ủy ban của Quốc hội, chỉ có 1 là nữ. Số phụ nữ trong các cơ quan quan trọng nhất của Đảng như Bộ Chính chị, Ban chấp hành trung ương và Ban bí thư còn rất thấp (chỉ có 2 nữ trong số 16 ủy viên Bộ Chính trị). Về phía chính quyền, tuy tỉ lệ nữ công chức lớn, nhưng tỉ lệ lãnh đạo nữ lại khá thấp và ở cấp thấp: tỉ lệ lãnh đạo nữ cấp phòng là 11%, cấp sở là 5% và cấp bộ là 3% (UNDP, 2012).

Câu hỏi đặt ra là liệu chúng ta có nên coi vấn đề có thêm nhiều phụ nữ vào cương vị lãnh đạo là quan trọng không? Cần làm như vậy cho “phải phép” hay liệu việc nhiều phụ nữ tham gia lãnh đạo doanh nghiệp, chính quyền và đời sống chính trị thực sự mang lại lợi ích cho quá trình phát triển của đất nước?
 

Gender equality in Laos: first impressions can be deceptive

Helene Carlsson Rex's picture
Watch the video highlighting the report's findings.

My mother always told me that first impressions are deceptive. Turns out, this is true also when it comes to gender equality.

I lived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, for six years, working in the World Bank’s country office on social development and gender issues. I still recall arriving in Vientiane, the sleepy city by the mighty Mekong river, and being taken by surprise of how empowered women seemed to be. I noticed women driving their motorbikes in the city, female shop owners serving delicious mango and papaya, and women in the latest business suits hurrying back to the office.

In a country where poverty has decreased by 25% since the 1990s, it was easy to get the impression that women are truly enjoying the benefits of development on equal terms with men. The laws are supportive of women as well. These have clear targets in place that promote women’s human development, economic opportunity, and participation.

Why Vietnam needs its baby girls

Mette Frost Bertelsen's picture

Cũng có ở Tiếng việt

Last week I read about Malala, the 14 year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head inside her school bus as retaliation for her active engagement in promoting girls’ rights to education in Pakistan. The same day I was helping a friend edit some text for her photo series on very young girls around the world (some as young as 5 years old), who are forced to marry often much older men out of economic necessity and due to cultural practices.

I suppose on that day, it really hit me how lucky I am to be working on gender issues in a country such as Vietnam, which in many ways is considered a front runner among developing countries when it comes to gender equality, and where such atrocities usually would not happen (although underage marriage does still occur in some mountainous areas of the country).

There is however one major challenge to gender equality in Vietnam, where there is reason for growing concern: the skewed sex ratio at birth. In Vietnam, the latest figures from 2009 show that for every 100 girls born, 111 boys are born. When looking at the richest 20% of the population and the rates for couples’ third child, this number increases to 133 boys for 100 girls.

Women outvote men to build activity hall in the Solomons

David Potten's picture
The soon to be completed women's meeting hall will house various activities to help women develop themselves.

(Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post)

While leaving leaving the LoLoMo eco-resort, the rain seemed to carefully time its return for our last leg of the trip. We were heading back towards Munda, and then turned to yet another island to visit the Buni Village Women’s Project.  This was project was in its first year of implementation. A large hall, together with rooms for guests, toilets (not standard in the rural Solomons), benches and a large blackboard was almost complete. The local carpenter was busy there in the building, planing wood for tables and benches.

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