On December 28th 2016 SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) of Vietnam organised a workshop on gender in climate change and rural agricultural policies. The aim of the workshop was to identify key agricultural and climate change policies with a gender gap and to discuss methods to increase the gender-sensitiveness of these policies.

The workshop was organised under the framework of the “Enhancing Opportunities for Women’s Enterprises” (EOWE) project. “SNV and MARD signed an agreement to work together on improving gender equality in Vietnam”, says Mrs. Ly Thi Minh Hai, Deputy Director of SNV Vietnam, in her openings speech. “One of the ways to increase gender equality is mainstreaming gender into agricultural and climate change programmes and policies and this workshop is the first step towards achieving this goal.”

In the past 20 years, increased gender equality has been regarded as one of the most outstanding achievements in Vietnam. A series of laws and policies prohibiting gender discrimination and domestic violence has been promulgated, including land policy reforms and agricultural restructuring policies. However, Vietnam is facing multiple challenges in achieving its gender equality goals as gender gaps still persist in numerous agricultural and climate change policies and implementation and enforcement of the policies remains weak.

Even though 75% of women in rural areas work in agricultural production, awareness on gender issues in the agricultural sector remains low. The workshop organised by SNV and MARD aimed to increase the awareness on gender issues and highlight the importance of gender mainstreaming into rural agricultural policies. The workshop was attended by the Departments for Agricultural and Rural Development (DARD) of the four target provinces of the EOWE project, who are responsible for the development and implementation of rural policies.

One of the policy issues results from the fact that many economic development policies only apply to a head of a household, usually men, which provides them more opportunities to increase their level of empowerment as compared to other members of the household. Women in rural areas have limited access to productive resources and services, such as land, finance and education and a report of MARD in 2012 shows that the number of women holding leadership, political and decision-making positions is still limited with only 5.7% of female leaders in agricultural departments, institutions and corporations. During the workshop international organisations, like UN Women and UNDP, and donors including DFAT, ADB and the Dutch embassy were present to discuss and share successful methods to mainstream gender into policies.