INITIAL REPORT FOR THE DRAFT LAWS ON ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT (14 DRAFT) AND THE ELECTION OF DEPUTIES TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND TO THE PEOPLE’S COUNCILS OF VIET NAM

21/03/2015

INITIAL REPORT

FOR THE DRAFT LAWS ON ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT (14 DRAFT) AND THE ELECTION OF DEPUTIES TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND TO THE PEOPLE’S COUNCILS OF VIET NAM

 

CONTENT:

1.     Introduction

2.     Some considerations regarding quota as TSM

3.     The Government Outlook

4.     Initial Comments and Recommendations to the Draft Law on Organization of Government (14 Draft)

5.     Notes from the National Assembly Discussion on the Draft Law on Organization of Government (14 Draft) held on January 9, 2015

6.     The Parliament Outlook

7.     Initial Comments and Recommendations to the Draft Law on Election of Deputies to the National Assembly and to the People’s Councils of Viet Nam

8.     Notes from the National Assembly Discussion on the Draft Law on the Election of Deputies to the National Assembly and to the People’ Councils

9.     Conclusion (to be included at the final stage)

 

1.     INTRODUCTION

Viet Nam has employed many efforts to increase representation of women and to improve gender equality, and it has achieved important results over the decades. The country always stands as an example of a country with strong and powerful women that have worked alongside with man during the revolution, the nation building and all spheres of society. The example of Mme. Nguyen Thi Binh, her incredible life, work and achievements is just one reminder that women and men can both do it given the chances and opportunities and person’s dedication with short, medium and long term vision as to where wants to go and what to achieve.

Viet Nam has shown over the years that places large emphasis on gender quality in all spheres of life and knows that development, industrialization and modernization of a developing country has to go hand in hand with achieving equal opportunities for both genders if a modern, industrialized, stable and developed country in the 21 century is its main goal.

Some recent prior parliamentary elections in Viet Nam in 2007 and 2011 have shown that women representation at the National Assembly fell short to reach the stated 30% women elected as deputies (as sought by the Fatherland Front and the Central Election Council) and instead women representation in National Assembly in 2007 was 28% while in 2011 had fallen to 24%. Therefore, the women representation remains a concern for the party and government taking steps to reverse this slightly negative trend in recent years.

The National Strategy on Gender Equality establishes gender equality targets in many fields and for the National Assembly, the strategy targeted a minimum of 35 % women representation in the next legislature from 2016-2020. By 2015 it aims to have 80% of ministries, ministerial level agencies, the agencies attached to the Government, the People’s Committees at different levels women as key leaders. By 2015 70% and by 2020 100% of the Party’s and State agencies and sociopolitical organizations with women making up 30 % and above of their labor force must have women among their key leaders. These targets are in line with the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action’s assessment that 30 % is the “so-called ’critical mass’, believed to be necessary for women to make a visible impact on the style and content of political decision-making.”[1]

2.      Some Considerations regarding quota as temporary special measures (TSM)

 

 

 

Women in politics and decision-making are often faced with informal barriers including traditions, stereotypes, cultural norms etc., even though they represent one half of the total population. It is a very long and slow process of changing the attitudes, perceptions, opportunities and outlooks for women in the political arena in every part of the world. Viet Nam is no exception.

Structures and mechanisms that are supposed to deliver in terms of gender equality are made less relevant or even irrelevant because of entrenched attitudes that perpetuate discrimination. For a long time one of the main questions has been: How to ensure that women’s rights are translated into rights enjoyed in practice, and namely in terms of access to resources and decision-making power?

Quotas systems as temporary special measures play crucial role in this respect, from first-generation – or electoral – quotas (constitutional and/or legislative), i.e. quotas in elected bodies, to second-generation quotas in non-elected public bodies (an area attracting growing attention), to the recently established new area of work of the so-called third-generation – or corporate – quotas in business and the private sector.

However, there is still very little or not enough attention paid to the low numbers of women as decision makers at the Government and its ministries and agencies. In many parts of the world lots has been done in terms of increasing women representation in Parliament, and now increasing women representation in the corporate boards, but very surprisingly not much has been done for increasing the number of capable women as ministers and heads of government agencies and it still largely depends on the head of the current government and/or the coalition partners in the government. This slowly begins to change but much more advocacy and engagement from the international and national levels are needed in order to bring meaningful chances in this very important are.

Apart from the electoral quota stated above, there are also two more types of gender quotas used in politics: reserved seats (constitutional and/or legislative); and the political party quotas (voluntary).

Over the past ten years, women’s numerical presence in positions of power and decision-making has received increased attention worldwide including the structures of the UN. The fact that with world-wide action the things started positively changing with growing numbers of women who stand for election for public decision-making positions, has brought to attention some ways and strategies to translate women’s presence into actions with results and influence. There are lot of expectations placed on the shoulder of women once they are in power to leave their mark with effective policy solutions and to possibly transform political spaces, be held accountable alongside men for gender equality and social justice and open doors for more capable women to follow. For example, the recent UN Women Report “In Pursuit of Justice” remarks that in Rwanda, with 51% of female MPs, important legal reforms on women rights has been approved.[2]

Quotas for women entail that women must constitute a certain number or percentage of the members of a body, whether it is a candidate list, a parliamentary assembly, a committee, or a government. The quota system places the burden of recruitment not on the individual woman, but on those who control the recruitment process. The core idea behind this system is to recruit women into political positions and to ensure that women are not only just a few without real decision making power in political life. Previous notions of having reserved seats for only one or for very few women, representing a vague and all-embracing category of "women", are no longer considered sufficient and in many cases are considered discriminatory and not in line with the international legal practice. Today, quota systems aim at ensuring that women constitute a large minority of 20%, 30%, 40%, or even to ensure true gender balance of 50-50%. In some countries quotas are applied as a temporary measure, that is to say, until the barriers for women's entry into politics are removed, but most countries with quotas have not limited their use of quotas in time.[3]

Most quotas aim at increasing women's representation, because the problem to be addressed usually is the under-representation of women - this is very important issue since women constitute appx.50% of the population in any given country. A 50%-50% quota is in its nature gender neutral, and it aims for a balance between genders. However, in the same time it sets upper limit to women's or men’s representation at a given time which a minimum requirement quota for women or men representation in any given time does not and can depend on the actual results of election or appointment.

The concept of "double quota" is sometimes used about a quota system that not only requires a certain percentage of women on the electoral list, but also prevents that the women candidates are just placed on the bottom of the list with little chance to be elected. Argentina and Belgium are examples of countries with legal requirement of double quotas. "Placement mandates" or rules about the rank order of candidates, especially at the top of the list, are other terms for the same phenomena.[4]

The Beijing Platform for Action is the most ambitious action plan to empower women and to eliminate discrimination against them. Since 1995, many governments have attempted to implement the Platform as a whole or in parts. The platform, as compared to the CEDAW Convention, is not a legally binding document. Nonetheless, it can be argued that the Platform’s 12 areas of concern and its recommendations can be linked to various articles of the Convention. In fact, the Platform spells out in detail the steps that need to be taken in order to satisfy the legal obligations of the Convention.

Consequently, the goals and actions spelt out in area ‘G’ of the Platform – ‘women in power and decision-making’ – correspond with Articles 1, 2, 3, 4 (1), 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 24 of the CEDAW. Although there is no explicit reference to the concept of quota systems, the aims of ‘gender balance’ and having the ‘same proportion’ of both sexes in, for example, governmental bodies, administrative entities and elective and non-elective public positions are set out and the application of ‘positive action’[5] to achieve them is suggested.[6] The focus is on governments, political parties, non-governmental organizations and the UN system itself.

General Recommendations of the CEDAW Committee of importance for the discussion on quota systems to increase the participation of women in public and political life are the General Recommendations 5, 8, 23 and 25 of the CEDAW Committee. General Recommendations, as formulated by UN treaty bodies, are interpretations of an accord to assist states parties in implementing their obligations.[7] General Recommendations 5 and 8 of 1988 are important due to the fact that the instrument of temporary special measures, including quota systems, was suggested at such an early stage of the Committee’s work.[8]

General Recommendation 23 of 1997 explicitly deals with Articles 7 and 8. It echoes relevant paragraphs of the Beijing Platform for Action and points to the historical and structural causes of discrimination against women in public and political life.[9]  It lists a number of requirements and obligations that states parties have to fulfill. A specific paragraph, which must be read in conjunction with these commitments, is devoted to the justification for, and the application of, temporary special measures (TSM). These requirements and obligations include: special recruiting efforts; financial assistance for women and the training of women candidates; amending electoral procedures; campaigns aimed at ensuring equal participation; targeting women for appointment to public positions; and  setting numerical goals and quotas.

Of even greater relevance to the application of quota systems is General Recommendation 25 of 2004 concerning Article 4 (1). This article is of a descriptive nature. It states that temporary special measures are not discriminatory when their application is aimed at accelerating the attainment of de facto equality between women and men. General Recommendation 25 explains the meaning of this definition in the context of the CEDAW as a whole and provides an in-depth analysis of the justification for applying Article 4 (1), as well as when and how to do so.

Having all of the above in mind, although the quotas may be unpopular in some countries in the world, the evidence indicates they work. The UN’s World’s Women 2010 Report found that, worldwide, “gender quotas… have helped increase the representation of women in parliament” and in 2009, “women comprised on average 21 per cent of parliamentarians in countries that used gender quotas, compared to an average of 13 per cent in countries that did not.” (p.116)

As a country example, Sweden is a case worth to be looked at. After the two main parties introduced quotas in 1972 the proportion of women in parliament increased from 14 to 45 %. While some oversight is required to ensure parties place female candidates in winnable seats, on the whole quotas are successful. It encourages political parties to actively recruit women and ensures that there is a critical mass of women elected to the parliament, altering political culture and norms.

On average, for example, in the Organization and Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, women held just over a quarter of seats in lower or single houses of parliament – as of early 2012 – with only 12 member countries reaching or superseding the 30% threshold recommended by the United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union for the representation of women. Compared to 2002, this marks a small increase of 6 percentage points on average. The representation of women in OECD parliaments is generally highest in Nordic countries, with 40% or more of seats held by women in Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway. In Turkey, Japan, Chile and Hungary women held fewer than 25% of seats.

Evidence also shows that countries with proportional electoral systems tend to have more women in legislature, possibly due to the practice of selecting a more gender-balanced set of candidates in party lists. In the OECD countries, 9 out of 12 countries meeting the 30% representation threshold use some form of proportional representation in the election of legislative representatives. In addition to the type of electoral system in place, women's political representation can also be impacted by cultural and financial barriers as well as by challenges in reconciling responsibilities of political and private life. To address this gap, nine OECD member countries have introduced gender quotas as a means of promoting gender equality in parliaments. Application of these quotas, however, may vary, from quotas applied during the nomination process (e.g. rules for placing women on party lists or to be nominated in an electoral district) to results-based quotas whereby a certain number of women are placed in winnable positions on the election lists and are elected in the parliament.

3.      The Government outlook

 

The political empowerment of women is critical to human development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Worldwide, women continue to be under-represented in national parliaments, occupying less than 22% of seats and accounting for just 17% of government ministers. The Asia Pacific Region has the lowest percentages of women in national legislatures of any region outside of the Arab states (UNDP).

However, there is change happening albeit slow. The Asia-Pacific Region is growing fast and more people are reaping the rewards of development. The gender gap in school enrolments is closing and there are many examples of women outnumbering men entering university. But what does appropriate education do when it is not met with appropriate opportunity?  To achieve political equality, women must be given the support and the opportunities they need to develop their full potential: they must be empowered to see themselves as leaders and they also must have entry points into politics at local, regional or national level.

Evidence from across the world shows that if gender inequality persists in decision-making, it is to the detriment of policy-making and the wellbeing of the society.

Social, political, economic and legal barriers have hindered participation at all levels of government. To make gender equality a political (and lived) reality (Michelle Bachelet), governments need to craft policies and programmes that build the economic power of women, promote a greater political voice and advance legal rights. The same is true also for Viet Nam.

A recent Asia-Pacific UNDP Human Development report (2012), as well as many other UN and non-UN reports, studies and experiences underline that the introduction of a gender quota system could be a possible political solution.

Gender quotas are already a part of constitutions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India and have proved globally to be the single most effective strategy for increasing the number of women in national parliaments.

Gender equality, like any goal, is a process. The Asia-Pacific region has come a long way in recent decades through the development of its political systems and the advancement of human development. But it could go much farther if more women were equally represented not only in parliament but also in government.[10]

In the political executive of OECD member countries for example, the percentage of women ministers increased from 21% in 2005 to 25% in 2012. Data from 2012 shows that the share of female ministers ranges from over 50% in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland to less than 10% in Hungary, Estonia, Slovenia, Greece and Turkey. Women often hold social and cultural policy portfolios. Although the process of ministerial appointments differs depending on the country's political system (parliamentary voting or appointments versus presidential appointments with or without parliamentary approval), women are not represented equally in any system.

 

 

 

Share of Women Ministers, 2012 and 2005:

Share of women ministers (2005 and 2012)

Source: Inter-Parliamentarian Union, Women in Politics, Posters, 2012 and 2005.

 

Having in mind that throughout the whole revolutionary process, the Vietnam Communist Party has always paid attention to directing the work for women and implementing the goal of gender equity,[11] and taking into consideration the Article 26 of the Constitution of Vietnam from 2013[12], the existing soft policies that require increasing attention and strengthening women’s representation in leadership and management positions in order to gradually reduce the gap in politics[13], the provisions from the Law on Gender Equality from 2006,[14] as well as the provisions of CEDAW, evidence shows that women’s rights in politics and decision-making are an area in which slow progress has occurred in the last decade and the limited gains that were made before have somehow diminished. Hence, the need to accelerate the already planned process with measures that have been applied in other parts of the world, and yielded results (but, also considering the circumstances and political realities in any given country).

Because progress has not been substantial in legislatures at national and local levels as well as in government and public administration, this makes it difficult to enforce policies and decisions on advancement of women in parliament, government, senior positions in the public sector and local government level. Yet one of the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (which has to be kept in mind as Vietnam is a state party to CEDAW) is:

“Women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including[15] participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace” (Beijing Declaration, para 13, United Nations 1995).

Despite the widespread movement towards democratization in most countries, women remain largely under represented at almost all the levels of political parties, public sector especially in ministerial and other executive bodies or in reaching the target of having 30% of decision making positions held by women by 2005 as endorsed by the UN Economic and Social Council. Women are not also well represented in private sector and even the traditional society although that is also changing with the introduction of the quota system for women on corporate boards in many countries the last few years. On many occasions and in many policy and academic papers it was also reiterated that women have limited access to political power and decision making because of multiple factors including religion, other socio-cultural and economic ones which is also applicable for Vietnam situation in general.

As underlined above many factors hinder women’s meaningful participation in decision-making, constitutional development and political processes. Efforts made to consciously enhance the visibility of women in governance have produced some results but not yet yielded achievements to date comparable to the expectations of Beijing 1995. As of 2014, women make less than 22% (average both houses combined is 21.9% - IPU source) in parliaments across the world.

Women are notably underrepresented in the executive branch of government as well, and only in recent years have increasingly held the top profile portfolios for their governments in non-traditional areas for women in government, such as national security and defense, finance, revenue and foreign relations. The same is also true for Vietnam.

As of September 2014, 9 women served as Head of State and 13 served as Head of Government.[16] And only 18% as stated above is the world average of women ministers in government. After 20 years since Beijing this is really a very low number.

Rwanda had the highest number of women parliamentarians worldwide. Women there have won 63.8 per cent of seats in the lower house.[17] Globally, there are 37 States in which women account for less than 10 per cent of parliamentarians in single or lower houses, as of December 2014.[18]

At the current rate of increase, the “parity zone” where neither sex holds more than 60% of parliamentary seats will not be reached by developing countries at least, until 2047.[19] Or even worse, as some observers point out, it can take at least 100 years for such action to take place elsewhere in the world.

As of January 2014, only 17 % of government ministers were women, with the majority overseeing social sectors, such as education and the family.[20]

In some studied cases, women’s representation in local governments has made a difference. Research on panchayats (local councils) in India discovered that the number of drinking water projects in areas with female-led councils was 62 % higher than in those with male-led councils. In Norway, a direct causal relationship between the presence of women in municipal councils and childcare coverage was found.[21]

As a case study, the current UK Government is notably male dominated, with both coalition partners having historical difficulties in attracting talented women to their ranks. This under-representation of women has a number of undesirable consequences, including largely shutting half the population out of the policymaking process. Recently it has been probably successfully argued that gender quotas in the executive would be the best way to remedy this problem, and help bring about a more equal society. 

It has been argued that: “There is an urgent need to improve the quality of representation at the elite level of UK politics. We need more women in positions of executive power because it is there that they have the requisite resources to make a tangible difference to women’s lives. Yet, the way we are approaching it is wrong. Both academic research and policy debates have tended to focus on improving supply: we just need more women MPs, so the argument goes, and then the recruitment to cabinet and across government will follow. But progress at increasing women in parliament has been incremental, inadequate and temporary, particularly in the parties which have not adopted strong mechanisms to secure the selection of women to winnable constituencies. We could wait another 100 years for equal numbers of male and female MPs at the current rate of progress. Even then there is no guarantee that women MPs will be selected for executive office once in Parliament.”[22]

Instead it is suggested and it is the right suggestion that the attention should be geared towards demand instead. Ministerial and government appointments are at the Prime Minister’s discretion. He (and sometimes, she) has the freedom to decide who joins the team, with, in many cases, political consultations and considerations.

It is noted that the failure to appoint women to government office is rarely because of a deficit of qualified women in the political pool. Evidence from across the world illustrates that when a Prime Minister is inclined to appoint women, he or she will. 

However, having in mind the world situation regarding the executive as well as the wording of Article 7, (b) of CEDAW: State parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life of the country and in particular: shall ensure to women on equal terms with men the right….(b) to participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government;….”, there is a long overdue need that the demand for women in political executives should be formalized through gender quotas in as many cases as possible. This is recommended in the UK case as well.

Many informal rules in many countries exist to ensure that a minimum representational standard is achieved. Traditionally in the UK there must be a minister who is Scottish, Welsh, and a balance may be sought across party factions. Elsewhere, in countries like Germany, unwritten quotas have existed to secure representation of large regions and even religious denominations. Indeed, UK Prime Minister Cameron invoked the notion of an informal gender quota for political executives before he took office with his aspiration that one-third of his government would be women by the end of parliament. This target is not achieved, despite a number of reshuffles, and has not exceeded 18% across government. It is hoped that a more formal rule would bring about the desired changes.

A gender quota for political executives would provide Prime Ministers with a tool to develop a set of political leaders who more closely mirror the citizens they represent. Requiring Prime Ministers to deliver parity cabinets would force party leaders to look outside the closed network of usual suspects when putting together ministerial teams. Formal gender quotas across the executive would accelerate the tediously slow advancement of women’s political representation at the elite level where politicians have resources to make a difference. Finally, a better gender balance across cabinets and government departments improves the chances (though does not guarantee) that women will fare better from government policy.[23]

In a recent action, around half of the 47 prefectures in Japan have set numerical targets for promoting female employees and most fall below Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of raising the proportion of women in leadership positions to 30 percent by 2020, according to a survey reported by Japan Times in November 2014.  All 47 governors replied to the survey in October and November 2014. Twenty-four said their prefectural governments had set numerical targets, while in Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said the capital would soon launch a goal of 20 %. The other 22 governors said their prefectural governments were still considering the matter.

Promoting women in the workplace has been one component of the prime minister’s economic reform policies. Abe has said his goal is to create a society in which “every woman shines.” This is a nice rhetoric but usually when the results should be shown, the Government fells short.

As of April 2013, Cabinet office data showed the proportion of women in managerial positions ranged from 15.2 percent in Tokyo to 2.1 percent in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Abe’s home turf.[24]

Finland's law requiring that at least 40% of each sex should be represented in the membership of various decision-making bodies including the Government led to an increase in women's membership from 25% in 1980 to 48% by 1996.

The French Constitution was reformed in 1999 to state that "the law favors the equal access of women and men to electoral mandates and elective functions."  In 2000, French law was changed so that political parties must present equal numbers of men and women (within two percent) for the elections.

In many cases, the number of women member of cabinets largely depends on the prime minister and the other leaders if it is a coalition government and it is negotiated during the cabinet formation or re-shuffling. In a recent case in Indonesia, the Prime Minister appointed eight women in the new Cabinet which is unprecedented for Indonesia but in line with his pre-election platform that women together with men will contribute for the advancement of the country.

Therefore, although not much has been done with regard to using legal (hard) quota systems in different governments, and the existence of many soft quota systems in many governments across the world, it is advisable that the countries, if determined to see real change on the ground and full implementation of the provisions of CEDAW to which are state parties like Viet Nam, use also legal quotas in the Government formation in order to accelerate the equality and see tangible results for its citizens across sectors. Especially having in mind the current situation in the Government of Viet Nam, where out of 27 members including the Prime Minister and the 5 Deputy Ministers, only 2 are women, for health and for labor, war, invalids and social affairs making only 8% women as members of the Government.

This number does not correspond to the increased efforts that Viet Nam has been making in order to improve women representation and participation at all level of decision-making in Government and Parliament. If the current decline of the number of women in parliament and leadership in Viet Nam persists, the country could be in danger of stagnating in its socio-economic development.[25] But having in mind the position of Viet Nam as a leading country in the area of gender equality in South East Asian Region before, taking this initiative further and including the quota system in the new Law on Organization of Government as well as into the new Election Law could help place Viet Nam back into the leading role in the SEA Region in a much shorter time and with visible results which should translate into change on the ground in much shorter time than anticipated.

 

 

4.      CONSIDERING THE ABOVE THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME INITIAL COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON:

 

1.      Draft Law on Organization of the Government (14 Draft) and synthesis of the discussion during the meeting with the Social and Cultural Committee of the Viet Nam National Assembly held on January 9, 2015:

 

In analyzing the 14th Draft of the Law on Organization of Government the following observations and recommendations can be made to be presented to the National Assembly and the Government in line with all legal provisions existing in Viet Nam as well as in line with the international obligations that Viet Nam has undertaken as state party to CEDAW:

1.      In Art.3,p.3, a part stating that the structure and the numbers of the Government shall be submitted by the Prime Minister to the NA for review and decision, should include also a statement that includes “the composition in accordance with the Constitution, the GEL, NSGE and the Resolution 11-NQ/TW and with the international legal instruments to which Viet Nam is a state party”.

2.      In Art.7, p.5 should encompass women enumerated in this legal provision;

3.      The same Art.7, points 8 and 9 need to be better clarified in the final version in order the equality of all be safeguarded. In the way how it is written in this version, can open variety of possibilities not all necessarily gender equality friendly.

4.      Art.8, p.4 to insert a provision that the state budget would be estimated with due consideration included of gender implications in the design of such a budget;

5.      The same Art.8, p.10 should state as the following: To direct, organize and manage the implementation of the state inventory and statistics disaggregated by gender. (Knowing how important it is and how much such statistics are lacking in so many countries in the world and as a consequence devising policies to combat gender discrimination in all areas becomes very difficult and problematic).

6.      Art.11, p.2 should include at the end of the paragraph a coma and then, equally, of both genders.

7.      Art.12, p.1, should include ….to combat the dissemination of harmful cultural ideologies and products, for both genders, to eliminate superstition and bad practices for all; to build up the civilized lifestyle for both genders and all groups in the society.

8.      The same Art.12, p.2, should include gender equality after national interests in the wording of the paragraph;

9.      Article 14, p.3 while is very good stipulating implementation of policies to ensure the equality between men and women in all political, economic, cultural, social aspects and family life, at the end of the paragraph should be inserted…”fight against all acts of violence and offences against human dignity of all and especially of women and children” (to be in line with gender equality concept).

10.  Art.14, p.4, should include the word all between the words “for” and “citizens”…so the article would equally apply for both men and women.

11.  Art.19, p.6, at the end should be included:….efficient administration based on equality principles as per the Constitution, the GEL, the NSGE and the Resolution 11-NQ/TW.

12.  Art.21, p.4 should begin with: “To organize on the basis of equality and direct the operations…..” since it is also in direct correlation and following Art.7 and 8 of CEDAW.

13.  Art.24 on Tasks and powers of the Prime Minister, p.2(c) should have gender considerations enshrined in the article because it is within powers of the Prime Minister to decide the total workforce of civil servants, public employees; to direct and unify the management of officials, civil servants and public employees in the administrative system of the state apparatus from the central to local levels.

14.  Art.24, para.3, at the end of the paragraph should be inserted, …in accordance with the Constitution, the GEL, NSGE, and the Resolution 11-NG/TW.

15.  Art.24, para. 4 to include at least 35% women when submitting to the Standing Committee of the National Assembly for approval of the appointment and dismissal of the Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary if the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in foreign countries (in accordance with the Constitution, GEL, NSGE, the Resolution 11-NQ/TW and Article 8 of CEDAW and also considering the information submitted in the Seventh and Eight Periodic Report of Viet Nam to CEDAW submitted to the CSW).

16.  Art.24, paras. 5 and 6 to include at least 35% women of the total appointments of Deputy Ministers or officials of equal rank of ministers or ministerial-level agencies, heads and deputy heads of the Government-attached agencies, Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons of the People’s Committees of provinecs or centrally run cities (in accordance with the Constitution, GEL, NSGE, the Resolution 11-NQ/TW and Article 7 of CEDAW). Alternative would be to have at least one third women.

17.  Art.24, para.10, at the end of the paragraph to include….all of the above will be done with gender equality considerations.

18.  Art.26 on Deputy Prime Ministers does not state the number or deputy prime ministers (currently all five are men) and the recommendation is to have the number stated in the Law and then, to have at least 35% of them women as appointed deputy prime ministers. Alternative would be to have at least one third women.

19.  Art.29, para.3, should read: “To propose the Prime Minister to appoint, remove from office or dismiss Deputy Ministers or Deputy Heads of ministerial-level agencies in accordance with gender equality consideration and the existing applicable gender legal provisions.

20.  Art.29, para.9 should have at the last sentence:…”to recruit, use, manage and implement regulations and policies related to officials, civil servants and laborers within their management scope and in accordance with gender equality considerations and the existing applicable gender legal provisions.

21.  Art.34, para.2, should contain gender considerations when Government decides about the number of deputy ministers and deputy heads of ministerial-level agencies in each ministry and ministerial-level agency with at least 35% of total appointed persons being women. Alternative would be to have at least one third women.

22.  Art.42, should include, apart from the Vietnam Fatherland Front also the Vietnam Women Union (stated with the full name) in all its paragraphs in order to underline the importance it attaches to the role that organization play in working towards achieving gender equality in the country.

 

5.      Notes from the National Assembly discussion on Law on the Organization of Government held in NA premises, Ha Noi, Viet Nam, on January 9, 2015:

 

The Vice -Chair of the PCSA of the NA Mme. Thuy Anh stated that there is a Gender Equality Law in force since 2007 and that Viet Nam has advance legislation regarding gender equality and mainstreaming gender issues into law-making processes. She underlined that the Committee is tasked to mainstream gender in all issues and they are in charge for gender issues for the whole NA.

They are very interested to have reviews done of the draft Election Law and the draft Law on the Organization of Government and to have and expert, outside opinion of their compatibility with CEDAW and the GEL.

Mme Thuy Anh stated that the objective is to make sure the law is in line with CEDAW and GEL principles and expressed hope that will receive comments on the preliminary report drafted by the drafting team.

The consultant Dr. Gjurchilova stated that this law is also important to overcome women’s under-representation in government which is a common challenge not only found in Viet Nam but also in many other countries across the world. Currently, out of 27 Ministers only 2 are female. She underlined that provisions may be included to encourage women’s appointments in leadership positions. The law is comprehensive, and for example Art.7, p.5, Art.12, p.6, Art.13 already include positive gender aspects. Yet, no specific measures are included to help increase women’s representation in Government organizations. Under-representation of female ambassadors for example, demonstrates women’s position in political power. Women’s representation in diplomacy and decision making positions should be legally enforced with provisions included into law. Art.16 (point.4 and 5) is a good example of unifying payrolls of civil servants and she expressed hope that that would be implemented. She asked how this law will be implemented and gender equality achieved and maintained. In Chapter III, there is no provision on gender equality and should be included into the task of the Prime Minister and a duty to appoint minimum 35% women in his/her cabinet in accordance with the existing legal documents (GEL, NSGE and the Resolution 11 NQ/TW).

In terms of product delivery, the members of the Committee are interested to receive a Report analyzing gender issues in the two draft Laws and to receive proposed recommendations for possible improvements. They would then, synthetize ideas that they collected from different consultants and expert opinions and recommendations and make the final decisions.

They are interested to hear about world experiences of quota in governments and to what level it is a success in different electoral systems. They are also interested to learn more how is gender mainstreaming done in different government agencies.

One of the members of the Committee expressed concerns that quota work better in developed countries while in Viet Nam as developing country might not work well since it is not at the level of socio-economic development as in developed countries. He was assured that different countries with different levels of socio-economic development use quota more or less successfully also depending on their electoral system, the strength of the gender machineries, the willingness of the party leadership to work on realization of gender equality.

They expressed also interest to have a closer look at the GEL, especially Article 6, and maybe revise this Law at a later stage. The Chairperson stated that the promotion of gender equality should not be considered gender discrimination even more having in mind articles 4, 7 and 8 of CEDAW. There is a need to have measures in place to support women in accessing executive positions since the level of implementation of these obligations is low and is responsibility of all institutions.

There is a need to insert a percentage of women to participate in Government and legislative framework in order to encourage more women to participate.

During the discussion, both sides realized that the English version that the consultant had does not correspond to the current Viet Nam version of the draft law.

Chapter IV may also include specific provisions to promote women’s leadership positions to bring them in line with the CEDAW provision – women as decision makers. It was again underlined that it is important to ensure women’s representation not only in NA but also in Government and its organizations. The TSM such as quotas in Government organization laws are not common internationally but there are some positive experiences in some countries using soft quotas. The consultant stated that she would like to hear whether the Committee would like to consider inclusion of quota in the Government organization law. Ministry in charge of gender equality can also play a role in appointing women in managerial positions and such requirements could be included in the Government organization law if specific provisions for that ministry are part of the law.

Mme. Thuy Anh stated that some initial analysis on how to mainstream gender has been conducted. She also pointed out that for the application of quota in the Law, they expect to learn from international experience during the development of the review report. She gave the example of France, where they have 50:50 parity in the government. She is convinced that once there is political will, it can be done. Quota will be easier to be implemented in government then in the elected bodies.

Dr. Gjurchilova agreed that from international experience, it is clear that women’s representation in parliament is not enough and that much more needs to be done in order to increase the number of capable women in government using TSM. She also informed that at the EU level 50:50 policy was introduced for women in corporate boards.

Some of the members of the Committee stated that these measures are very advanced and Viet Nam is still not catching up because there needs to be capability and political will for increasing women’s representation at that level.

Mr Chương, member of the Committee asked if the quotas are applied only in developed countries stating the EU and French examples, because there are more qualified women which make it easier to introduce quota system.

Dr. Gjurchilova assured that it is in fact, the opposite. In developed countries there are more chances for women to reach managerial positions as in developing countries women struggle to overcome privilege enjoyed by men. When women’s potential is used, it also boosts development. She gave the examples from Rwanda and Liberia where great progress in women’s representation was made in the past decade.

Mme Thuy Anh confirmed that Rwanda holds the highest representation of women in the world. She expressed interest to know more about the relation between quota in NA and in Government and whether they are positive relationships.

Mr. Luong Phan Cu, ex. Vice -Chairman of PCSA asked what is the foundation for application of quota? And what percentage should be used and at what level? They need to learn from other countries to set their quota. Dr. Gjurchilova stated that it depends on the progress made. The criteria could be revised accordingly with the situation and when gender equality is achieved, quota could be abolished yet no country reached that point yet. Norway is closest to this stage.

Mr. Cu informed that the percentage of women is not high at the vice minister level, also at key positions at local level. Women education has rapidly increased in recent years. Therefore, he would like to have advice to identify appropriate measures and percentage.

Dr. Gjurchilova stated that the capacity of women has to be developed on an ongoing basis. They need to start recruiting women and train them to enable them to climb up the ladder. Women’s representation need to come from both ways - from bottom and up and from top down.

On Mme. Thuy Anh question how is the gender issue resolved in organization/system/government apparatus (specialized ministries), Dr.Gjurchilova stated that same principle applies throughout entire government organizations and that state administration also is a critical place where gender equality should be achieved.  She underlined that unless there is certain percentage or numbers from where to start you cannot measure the implementation. How do you measure your satisfaction without set criteria?

Mme. Thuy Anh stated her opinion that at least 30% of personnel should be women.

Dr. Gjurchilova underlined the importance of having gender statistics and the need that they are broken down at different level to understand women’s representation at decision making level.

Mr. Cu, stated that if the retirement age is equal, it would be easier to promote women in managerial level. The gap in retirement age is a huge challenge for them. Can we overcome this challenge with bylaws?

Dr. Gjurchilova expressed concern and stated that it is unfortunate and discriminatory that women need to retire at age 55. With the quota system, also younger women should be brought to power. The bylaw cannot solve the issue unless the law is changed. Yet, seeing the capacity of Vietnamese women, the retirement age should not be a barrier to increase women’s representation in leadership positions. However, the retirement age should be equalized for both gender as it has been proposed for a long time to different parts of the Government and Parliament.

Mme Thuy Anh stated that operation of this decision relies on MOFA. If they use seniority system is will be difficult to implement.

Mr. Luc, member of the Committee stated that comments from NA deputies are being gathered for the law at the moment. The law must be based on the 2013 Constitution in accordance with the role of Government. There is no law that prohibits women’s participation, all laws encourage it. There is a need to include article on prioritization of women, perhaps not in Government organization law but in other bylaws. NA deputies say they need to review tasks of the government. During the drafting process, the NA must mainstream gender equality in each article.

Mme Thuy Anh emphasized the importance of Art.6 of GEL. Measures promoting gender equality should not be considered discrimination. Therefore, quota is in line with CEDAW as TSM. Measures also need to support women as they have more housework. For implementation of the law, she stated that they need to include support policies for women and include role of every organizations to promote gender equality. They would like more information from the international experience on legislative frameworks, percentage for quota, comparison between parliament and government system etc. By the end of January 2015 they will have preliminary report covering key issues, and on 21st of March 2015 a consultative workshop will be organized in Ho Chi Minh City. The final report will contain gender equality issues of the law and recommendations, and also the summary of the consultation.

6.      The Parliament Outlook

Wide variations remain in the average percentages of women parliamentarians in each region, across all chambers (single, lower and upper houses). As of December 2014, these were: Nordic countries, with 42 %; the Americas, with 26 %; Europe excluding Nordic countries, with 23.6 %; sub-Saharan Africa, with 21.8 %; Asia, with 18.3 %; the Middle East and North Africa, with 16.0 %; and the Pacific, with 15.3 %.[26]

 

Achieving 30% representation is widely considered an important benchmark for women’s representation. As of January 2014, 39 single or lower houses were composed of more than 30 % women, including 11 in Africa and 8 in Latin America.[27] Out of the 39 countries, 32 had applied some form of quotas opening space for women’s political participation. Specifically, 13 use legislative candidate quotas; 6 use reserve seats; and in a further 10, parties have adopted voluntary quotas.[28]

In countries with proportional electoral systems, women hold 25.2 % of the seats. This compares with 19.6 % using the plurality-majority electoral system, and 22.7 % using a mixed system.[29]

More women in politics do not necessarily correlate with better policies or as for example, lower levels of corruption, but, rather, democratic and transparent politics is correlated with low levels of corruption, and the two create an enabling environment for more women to participate.[30]

 

In the OSCE countries the situation is as in the figure below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share of women parliamentarians and legislated gender quotas (2012 and 2002):

Lower or single house of Parliament

 

 

Share of women parliamentarians and legislated gender quotas (2012 and 2002)

 

Bars in light purple represent countries with lower or single house parliaments with legislated candidate quotas as of 21 January 2013.

Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), PARLINE (database); and IDEA,  Quota Project (database).

 

Viet Nam Constitution from 2013 gives the same opportunities for women and men to participate in all aspects of the electoral process therefore making the election process democratic, fair, and non-discriminatory.

Articles 6 of the Constitution state: “The People shall exercise the state power in the form of direct democracy and of representative democracy through the National Assembly, People's Councils and other state agencies. 

And Article 7 state that: 1. The elections of deputies to the National Assembly and People's Councils must be conducted on the principle of universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage. 2. A National Assembly deputy or a People's Council deputy may be removed from office by the voters or the National Assembly or the People's Council, when he or she is no longer worthy of the confidence of the People.” 

The right to vote and be elected into office it is not only that but it also encompasses the right for both women and men to be members of the election-in-charge organizations, to have equal, fair and non-discriminative list of candidates, and to uninterruptedly run for office. To ensure that these rights are upheld, the electoral law should be adopted with gender consideration in mind throughout the whole process with concise, clear, comprehensive and transparent provisions.

 

Since Viet Nam is currently in a process of developing new Law on Election of Deputies to National Assembly and deputies to People’s Council (LEDNA and PC) to be in line with Viet Nam Constitution 2013, including the establishment of a National Election Council (NEC), it is necessary to include the principles of gender equity and non-discrimination in all important parts of the law.

 

The principles of equality is stated in the Article 1 of LEDNA and PC on Principles of the election which states that: “The election of deputies to National Assembly (NA) and deputies to People’s Council (PC) shall be conducted on the principles of universal suffrage, equality, direct and secret ballot” whereas the principle of democracy and lawfulness is stated in Article 4, p.2 on Responsibilities of Agencies where it is states that” “The Standing Committee of the National Assembly (SCNA) ……shall oversee the election of deputies to the NA and deputies to People’s Councils of all levels to ensure that the election is organized in a democratic and lawful manner.”

However, as experience in other countries, but also in Viet Nam, has shown these provisions are not enough to ensure that the election(s) would be conducted and would have results that are in correlation with the stated principles. 

 

 

7.      CONSIDERING THE ABOVE THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME INITIAL COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON:

 

2.      Draft  Law on Election of Deputies to the National Assembly and to the People’s Councils (LEDNA and PC) and synthesis of the discussion during the meeting with the Social and Cultural Committee of the Viet Nam National Assembly held on January 9, 2015:

In analyzing the Draft LEDNA and PC of 06.10.2014 the following observations and recommendations can be made to be presented to the National Assembly and the Government in line with all legal provisions existing in Viet Nam as well as in line with the international obligations that Viet Nam has undertaken as state party to CEDAW:

 

   -    In Art. 4 on Responsibilities of agencies, point 1, at the end of the paragraph should be

        added: ... in accordance with gender equality considerations and the existing

        applicable gender legal provisions.

   -    In Art.4, p.2, in the second sentence should be added:… in accordance with gender

        equality considerations, the agreed TSM and the existing applicable gender legal

        provisions;

   -    In Art.4, p.2, in the third (and last sentence) should be added: ….in democratic,

        lawful, equal, safe and economical manner.      

-       Art.4, point 4, should include that: “The Viet Nam Fatherland Front (VFF) shall organize consultations in an equal and non-discriminatory manner including the usage of temporary special measures (TSM) to select and nominate women and men candidates for the deputies to the National Assembly and People’s Councils, and shall participate in overseeing the election of deputies to the National Assembly and People’s Councils (having in mind the enormous influence that VFF has in selecting candidates for deputies at all levels). There is a need to insert another sentence and to state: ”The VFF should work with VWU in ensuring gender equality provisions of this Law are followed and applied”.

-       Art.4, p.5 should also have inserted at the end of the first sentence….in equal and non-discriminatory manner where the usage of TSM is not considered discriminatory.

-       In Art.5, the recommendation is to enlarge the number of days from 105 as proposed that the SCNA will announce the elections to 125 days, so women can have more time to prepare for election process since it has been proved in previous instances that sometime some women are told that will run for office only couple of days before the actual election. This should be prevented of happening in any future election cycle. All people, including women should have equal opportunities to run for office and be elected, time for actual election process included.

      As pointed out in a UNDP Analysis[31], candidates have a chance to meet voters to hear their    

      comments during the selection and nomination process as well as presenting their action

      plans during campaign process.  However, it has been shown that the number of constituents

      joining in such activities is very limited. There are only 340,696 voters joining in 2,192

      voters’ conferences for candidates to the 13thNA and 6,367,095 voters joining in 121,084

      voters’ conferences for candidates to PCs at all levels of the term 2011 - 2016[32]. It means that,

      more than 80%[33] (both women and men) of voters do not join voter’s conferences. If the

      campaign period is lengthened, all constituents will have more opportunity to interact with

      candidates to make an informed decision.

-        Art.7, p.1 has the same recommendation and reasoning as the one above; 

-        There are no TSM in the current draft in order to guarantee that the planned percentage of women (NSGE and the Resolution 11 NQ/TW) will become deputies in the next legislature:

Art.7, p.1 and 2 are crucial since it is here where the TSM - quota should be introduced into the Law.

      International practice shows that the wording is better and in accordance with the equality   

      and non-discrimination principles to be gender neutral and therefore, it is recommended that

      instead the wording as it is now in both points 1 and 4 to add at the end of point 1 and point 4

      “a minimum of 35% deputies of either gender “. Therefore, the point 1 at the end would read:”….and

       ensure that minimum of 35% deputies of either gender are represented at the National Assembly

       including a reasonable percentage of representation of all classes of people.

       Point 4 can be put together with point 1 or, if it stays separate it should read: “The number of

       female deputies to the National Assembly shall be proposed by NASC at the request of the

      Presidium of the Central Executive Committee (PCEC) of the Viet Nam Women Union (VWU) to

      ensure that at least 35 % women are elected as Deputies to the NA.

      With this legally binding TSM the already set targets in the NSGE and in the Resolution 11-NQ/TW would

       be enforceable because as the situation stands now, without such legally binding provisions the situation is

      unlikely to change in the desired direction as the 2007 and 2011 election results have shown.

-        The same as for Art.7 above should be inserted also for Art.8 points 1 and 2 regarding the election for People’s Councils and their deputies;

-        Regarding Chapter III, Section 1 on National Election Council (NEC), and Articles 11 to 15 first, it should be stated that there are no TSM in form of gender quota for members of NEC and sub-national election organizations.

It has been underlined that members of past NEC and sub-national election organizations have been predominately men.  This Draft Law does not include any regulation regarding gender balance of NEC or sub-national election organizations.  This is an important oversight because it is not in line with the GEL, and the NSGE. It is important that this oversight is addressed and changed because ensuring a gender balance in electoral council membership and non-self-interest as candidate in the electoral process is paramount in ensuring a non-discriminatory electoral process.

-        Therefore, it should be considered the following:

1.              Gender considerations should be enshrined in all of these articles including the NEC duties and powers and especially in relations to the election of deputies to the NA and to the People’s Councils as well as its structure which should reflect the minimum 35% of either gender as members of the NEC. Also to be added: “Members of the National Election Commission are not permitted to run for election as deputies to the NA”.

2.              To make sure that the list of candidates consists of minimum of 45% to 50% of both genders (Art.14, p.1), in order women to have a fair chance to be elected at least to the minimum of 35%;

3.              In Art.14, p.4, at the end to be included after a coma,..always keeping the minimum of 45 % to 50% of  both genders at all times. (in order to make sure that women have a fair chance to be elected as deputies in the minimum of 35% in the next legislature);

4.              Art.11 should also have gender consideration introduced into it since it is very general in nature and it should contain more specific ways of how the NEC would manage and allocate the funds for election of the deputies to the National Assembly which would also has considerable impact on how many women would be able to run for office for financial reasons;

  1. To add to the Art. 20, 21, 21, 22 and 23 that “The structure of the Election Committee/Board/Team should consists of minimum of 35% of both gender. Members of Election Committee/Board/Team are not permitted to run for election of deputies to NA and deputies to PCs”.

 -    Regarding Art.16, p.1, and in any other articles where noted, the language (in English) should be gender

      neutral and in that sense should read….”The Chairman of the National Election Council is

     responsible to the National Assembly for his/her leadership,…..”.

 -    In Art.20, p.1. and Art.21, p.1. the days should also be 125 before election day instead of 105…in order to

      give more time for all the candidates but especially women to prepare and run for office.

 -    Also in Art.20, p.1, the committee for election of the deputies to the National Assembly and People’s

      Councils at the provincial level should consist of representative of Viet Nam Women Union and of

      minimum 35% of either gender.   

-    In Art.21, p.1.para.2, the committee for election of the deputies to the district-level People’s

     Councils that consists of between eleven and fifteen people and the committee for election of

     the deputies to the commune-level People’s Councils consists of between nine and eleven

     people, should be constructed with gender equality consideration and the existing

     applicable gender legal provisions.

-    The same is the recommendation for Art.22, p.1 for the composition of the election

     Boards and for Art.23,p.1, para.1 and 2 for Election Team where possible and excluding

     people’s armed forces.

-   Art.37, should also contain the following at the end of the sentence…keeping the structure of

     the minimum 45% to 50% candidates of either gender at the central and local levels

     election lists to run for election as deputies of the National Assembly.

-   Art.41, p.2, Art.42, p.2, Art.45, Art.46,p.2, Art.47, p.2, and Art.50  should include... The

    preliminary list of candidates should include a minimum of 45% - 50% candidates of

    either gender”.

-   To add to the Art.46, p.2, Art.47, p.2, and 54.2: The final list of candidates should contain a

    minimum of 45% candidates of either gender. The principle of equality in selection of

    candidates on each list shall be guaranteed. The placement on the list would be

    interchangeable”. The criteria as to what women and men go at the top and all the way to the

    bottom should be agreed and clearly stated in the Law.

The explanation lays in the fact that: Until now, and in accordance with the current legislation, and the guidance notes for election, most of nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to NA are introduced by the leadership of agencies, organizations and units under the guidance of NASC for proportions, compositions and number of deputies and with consultation organized by VFF for the proportion, composition and numbers of nominated candidates. Also, most of nominated candidates for election of deputies to PCs are introduced by leaderships of local agencies, organizations, units and sub-administrative agencies, villages/hamlets under the estimation of PCSC for the proportion, composition and numbers of deputies to PCs and the consultations organized by sub-national VFFs for proportion, composition and numbers of candidates.

In the UNDP Analysis [34] it was pointed out that a review of the Report on Election of deputies to NA and PCs of some localities found that the percentage of women candidates for the NA election and the percentage of women candidates for PCs of all levels was approximately 30%. There is a direct correlation between number of women candidates and number of successful women delegates[35]. There are some localities showing a ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to PCs approximately equal to that of men such as Tuyen Quang province, Yen Bai province, Tan Thinh ward (Hoa Binh city, Hoa Binh province) resulting in high percentage of successful women candidates[36].

Having in mind these differences among provinces and the way of nominations, there is a need to introduce TMS in form of quotas in order to “even the playing field” for all candidates, male and female so they would all have a fair chance of being elected. If the principle of gender equality is not respected at the selection and nomination stage, then the 35 percentage of women elected would hardly be met.

Therefore, it is important to guarantee an equal ratio of women and men nominated and self-nominated candidates to ensure a higher percentage of female elected deputies.

Another important issue is the arrangement of election lists themselves.

For example, during the election of deputies to the 13thNA[37] and the PCs[38], the unequal arrangement of lists of candidates to be elected as deputies showed that it has great importance as to how and where the women were elected because the articles related to lists of candidates of current legislation do not stipulate clearly how to place the candidates on the election lists. Thus, the arrangement of candidate lists by the election-in-charge organizations of localities is not the same[39]. As a result, there are many women not being successful also as a result of where they have been placed on the list of candidates.

Therefore it is recommended that there is interchangeable arrangement of placement on the lists (woman-men-woman-men etc.) abiding by certain agreed criteria inserted in the Law in order to reach the 35% elected women deputies.

-   Art.48, p.2, should include … in accordance with gender equality considerations and the

    existing applicable gender legal provisions.

-   Art.84, p.2, and Art.85, p.2, the sum-up Reports of the election of the deputies to the

    National Assembly and the election of deputies to the People’s Councils shall include also

    information by gender.

-   Art. 94 should contain also the Vietnamese Women Union when NASC coordinates in   

    providing for the consultation and nomination of candidates for additional election of the

    National Assembly.

-   The Law should contain separate provision where it would encourage the participation of

    independent candidates and especially women in the electoral process.

-   Since the role of the VWU is not emphasized in the draft Law in order to help the electoral

    process with providing lists of potential women candidates for the NA and the PCs, there

    should be a new point added to the Article 4 on responsibilities of agencies which could read:

  “VWU works with relevant agencies, organizations and units to develop list of potential

   women candidates who meet the qualifications to become deputies to NA and deputies to

   PC. In the same time, the VWU, supervises the implementation of gender equality during

   the whole election process and organizes continuous training programs for women

   candidates to NA and candidates to PC”.

    The rationale behind above recommendation is the fact that: VWU is national and sub-

    national organization with a mandate to protect and promote the rights of women, including

    the right to vote and stand for election. The UNDP research shows that VWU at central and

    local level lacks mechanism to work with relevant agencies, organizations and units to

    develop and propose the list of potential women as candidates for the NA and PC elections.

    The VWU usually makes recommendation for specific women candidates based on their

    responsibility and enthusiasm rather than based on established criteria and mechanism in

    order to work closely with the other stakeholders responsible for election process.

-      There are no provisions on the accountability of all stakeholders in order to guarantee that

       women are elected at the NA and the PCs in numbers in accordance and projected at the

       NSGE and the Resolution 11 NQ/TW. Therefore it is recommended that:

       A new Article is added in Chapter X with the following wording or similar:

     “Members of election-in-charge organizations and related organizations, units and agencies

       who in any way violate the principles of democracy, fairness, equality and non-

       discrimination and the existing legal provisions regarding the electoral process shall be

       subject to administrative penalty or prosecuted for penal liability as described by law”.

       Having in mind that in the current legislature, the NASC holds the highest responsibility for

       proposing and adjusting the proportion, composition and number of deputies to NA and

       giving direction to election of deputies to PCs at all levels it has the highest responsibility 

       for achieving the TSM of a minimum of 35% of either gender to be elected as deputies to

       NA and PCs and therefore its accountability should be stated in the Law with enumerated  

       consequences in case of non-compliance.

       Moreover, since the other organizations starting with the NEC, but also the sub-national

       election-in-charge organizations and the PCSCs as well as the Government and the local

       People’s Committees are also responsible for gender equality and women’s advancement

       during elections including the VFF and the VWUs, they also should be held accountable for

       the election process and their accountability should be stated in the Law with enumerated

       consequences in case of non-compliance.

-      There are no provisions in the Law regarding the election campaign and it should be

       conducted. It is advisable that the Law contains provisions on that with gender

       considerations in mind.

-      As general recommendation, the existing retirement age system for women which does not

       corresponds with the equality and non-discrimination principles either from the international

       legal obligations that Viet Nam had undertaken nor with the current legal system in the

       country, is to be changes so both women and men have a choice to retire at the same age or

       they can also have flexibility 3-5 years to retire earlier. European model that is the most used

       for these cases is retirement age is 64 for both, where women can opt out to retire two years

       earlier. With the conditions and the longevity of life changing, there is growing tendency

       that the retirement age is moved much forward and all of these issues should be studied

       before making decision and selection but it is important since impact greatly on the election

       and nomination processes in Viet Nam since women do not have (again) equal chances to

       participate in the political life (but also in the work force in any profession as well, with

       some small exceptions, which is to begin with, unconstitutional).

-      As another general recommendation - the women to participate at election process in local

       level should be chosen using the same criteria as for men  some listed in the Law. They

       should not be selected when fitting into several hats at once i.e. satisfying apart from the

       enumerated criteria also being a minority or separate ethnicity, a student, from private

       sector, younger etc. as many cases have shown in the previous election cycles;   

 

 

8.      Notes from the National Assembly discussion on Law on Election of Deputies to the National Assembly and to People’s Councils held at NA premises, Ha Noi, Viet Nam on January 9, 2014:

 

The Vice-Chair of the Committee Mme Thuy Anh stated that the objective of today’s consultative meeting is start the review of the two laws from CEDAW perspective and discuss how to conduct the review.

The Consultant Dr. Gjurchilova stated that she plans to conduct the review also using practices from other countries that used CEDAW as basis to introduce positive measures to increase the number of women in Government and Parliament also introducing relevant articles and national provisions for the review.

She gave her preliminary remarks as follows: Art. 4 – about Fatherland Front’s role she asked what is the practice until now?. In art.7, what are the post allocation, composition, reasonable percentage of classes (both quality and quantity important). Also in the current draft Art.7 p.4 she asked about the wording of the number of female deputies - adequate number of deputies – the language is kept vague and hard to measure what it needs to be achieved. TSM are very helpful in that regard because they provide precise numbers. She provided example of trainings conducted to build capacity of women candidates, such as the project “Women Can Do It” in South East Europe, creation of Macedonian Women’s Lobby and Women Parliamentary Club within the Parliament in Macedonia etc. From the experience in Macedonia, inclusion of “at least 30 % of both gender represented on the election lists” into the National and Local Election Laws helped to increase numbers of women PMs above the 30% threshold (currently 34%).

Mme Thuy Anh stated that the proportional system is more successful in introducing quota. Viet Nam follows majority system so the quota may not work as well also considering the fact that Viet Nam is a one party system country.

Dr. Gjurchilova replied that the difference between proportional and majoritarian systems exists but also the election systems in different countries are much broader and varied. The quotas are used in most countries of east Europe at least for election of MPs. However, there have been challenges too. Often women were listed on the bottom of the candidate lists and therefore with minimum chances to get elected. In order to overcome this, each gender should be places in the election lists interchangeably i.e. one after another.

Mme Thuy Anh agreed that ordering is very important for the majoritarian system because also the bottom of the list often gets deleted. It is one list for one constituency not list by party. She agree with Dr. Gjurchilova that they need to emphasize quality not only quantity of the women candidates. She stated that the way women candidates were selected until now is written down in the election law and that guideline is only for technical issues.

Dr.Gjurchilova underlined that in Chapter III of the draft Law for example, it is not clear how many women will be members of the NEC and the local election managing organizations. It is wise to ensure women to be represented in the agreed percentage in these bodies as well since they are in charge of the whole election process. It may be a challenge at the commune level but it will help at the end to achieve better gender balance at all levels. Same can be said for the composition of the national election council and local election committees. Also Chapter 6 should integrate more gender specific language. There is also the issue of how women candidates will be treated in the media since the law should require for gender sensitivity and equality in that area as well.

Moreover, the collection of data is very important and the data should be desegregated by sex right after the election. After applying monitoring and evaluation tools, then the NA and the other stakeholders can see whether the changes in law are working. Again, the way how the candidates are chosen is very important as well as working together with National Women’s Machinery and the women’s group at the NA.

Mr. Cu, member of the Committee stated that Viet Nam is one party system which is different from others and there is a need to look at the culture and tradition in Viet Nam as well. There is a legal quota inserted into the NSGE. To achieve the quota is very difficult. They cannot put fixed percentage in the law. They can only put fixed figure in the candidate list only.

Mme Thuy Anh was interested to know if they put fixed number in the Law then, what are the measures they will need to take about the elected numbers not the candidates. There are many criteria introduced for female candidates but it is difficult to find the right person satisfying all these criteria.

Mr. Cu also pointed out that the NA needs to have ethnic minority people and people from private sectors. Also there are different sectors in NA and it is difficult to make sure of exact proportion of women. During the election campaign there is no discrimination but, it is in people’s mind when they usually think that women are better at housework then in politics.

Mme Thuy Anh informed that Art.6 of GEL stipulates principle of gender equality in addition to CEDAW.  Also Art.19 of GEL should be taken into account - balancing the family and professional work. What are the recommendations on other laws ensuring gender equality is ensured through legislative procedures. Different agencies responsible at ensuring gender equality. The quota is a key issue and has been raised many times by NA deputies. The law in current draft only mentions appropriate proportion – many deputies want to include specific figures. There is a need of further study on how to quantify the quota but, the difficulty is how to implement it in reality. What could happen if the fixed proportion is not achieved? So there is a need to make sure to mention the measures need to be taken to realize the proportion. Also, there is a need to make sure that the chosen women are capable (quality). The third issue is the percentage of women candidate from central to local level. There is a need to look at the proportion of female voters, the voter participation in voter conference and the type of women who comes to vote. Women should be educated about the candidates and also about the women candidates. Responsibility of the VWU should be also specified. VWU’s role is to introduce women candidates. But what should VWU do to fulfill their responsibilities. How it should introduce the best candidates and provide trainings, because VWU always participate in training at different levels of election candidates.

She also informed that there is a plan to amend the GEL during the next term of the NA.

Dr. Gjurchilova stated that the VWU’s role could be further specified in the GEL. Different selection process for women is not recommended but WU/Fatherland’s Front can help to increase the quality. The use of “appropriate” number is not recommended. Usually, State electoral commission is responsible to ensure the number of women candidates and that women are placed appropriately in the candidate lists.

Mme Thuy Anh stated that the TSM are the fixed number of women and asked for more advice. The objective is to ensure feasibility. She asked what are the recommendations to support the implementation of the law. Dr. Gjurchilova stated that the initial observations are that if the Law is to be in line with NSGE, the number should be 35%. She asked if that is the same understanding from the Committee? What is the realistic number?

Mme Thuy Anh informed that the Resolution 11 of Polit-Bureau specify the percentage 35-40%. This is a document from the communist party as an orientation. This document needs to be institutionalized yet the law does not mention it and that is the short coming. Since BPfA in 1995, Viet Nam had achieved 32% before and then they did not accept the quota. But now the situation is not as such. She stated that having quota on the election lists is much easier but they want to achieve the quota of women who are already elected not the women candidate. Some other countries have same practice with that and they would like to know how it works. Very important is how to make sure that the best candidates are introduced?  Another important thing is that women may be in unfavorable position compared to men. They also need to study about the competition.

Ms. Cha, member of the Committee, stated that another issue to be looked at is whether the election process for central and regional level is different in other countries.

Dr. Gjurchilova stated that many numbers and reports can be looked at but to understand the reality of the competition, they need to visit and talk to local people to find out.

Ms Ki, member of the Committee asked the consultant to find more about the four projects how it increased the percentages of women MPs.

Dr. Gjurchilova explained that many trainings in leadership, public speeches, public appearances, political and economic empowerment through workshops and round tables etc. were all given over time in order to equip women with necessary skills to start running for office, first at local levels. First trainings were provided by international organization officials but then they were conducted by the trained trainers local women and men. It worked as Train of trainers process or as it is known - ToT. There were also meetings and conversations with the political leaders to sensitize them on gender equality and the CEDAW provisions. The preparation for CEDAW country report also is a good opportunity to introduce new measures.

Mr. Tra, member of the Committee, stated that the law was fist discussed at the last NA session including gender mainstreaming. For voters they do not need to analyze very much. They only need to freely participate in election. For candidates, there are different systems. At first, before the first consultation the percentage of women is around 30-35% but later on that number is reduced. For NA election, numbers like 20% is very high. Before the election we always conduct training where PCSA and center for training are playing crucial roles. The organizational chart is complicated. The National Election Council and Election Committee are placed at the central level. In district level other committees exists. If they could increase number of women in these bodies it will be easier. However, it is rather sensitive issue as these members are introduced by different organizations. In chapter I, standing committee must work with VWU to ensure gender equality. The most important is to increase women candidates and leadership at different level and to create favorable conditions.

Ms. Cha informed that between 20 and 25 March, 2015 (most probably starting 21 of March) there would be consultation workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City. There will be one report done by PCSA and one done by UN Women to be shared by end of January 2015 and finalized by the end of February 2015. Meanwhile, the two sides will consult via emails. Then, by the end of February 2015 there will be one final Report (combined?) to be used at the consultations in March 2015.

She also stated that when the consultation will be held, the new draft law would have be already submitted to the standing committee so we will all look at the 2nd draft of the law but the issues will remain the same.

Mme Thuy Anh stated that the PCSA needs to submit issues of the law to the standing committee. The member of the standing committee will submit the issues to the central committee. And the results of the report will form the recommendations.

Dr. Gjurchilova clarified that the fist, initial Report by the end of January 2015 will be a preliminary report (in bullet points) and will be further elaborated during February 2015.

Ms.Thuy from UN Women asked that all share background information of the standing committee and the contents of the reports. And Mme Thuy Anh affirmed that the issues raised today should be covered in the Report.

 

9.      CONCLUSION

 


[1].  UN Women. “Equal Participation of Women and Men in Decision-Making Processes, with Particular Emphasis on Political Participation and Leadership.” Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. October 24, 2005. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/egm/eql-men/

[2]. See “In Pursuit of Justice: UN WOMEN Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012”. The report (p. 27) lists the following relevant legislation approved in Rwanda over the last years: “The Succession Act (1999) established gender equality in inheritance and property ownership. The National Land Policy (2004) and Land Law (2005) provided equality in statutory and customary land ownership. The Law on Prevention and Punishment of Gender-Based Violence was passed (2008); marital rape was criminalized (2009).”

[3]. The Quota Project, accessed  Jan.27, 2015, www.thequotaproject.org

[4]. Ibid.

[5].In the European Union, temporary special measures are called ‘positive measures’; in the United States, they are called ‘affirmative action’. The CEDAW Committee prefers the terminology of the Convention.

[6]. United Nations. 2001. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with the Beijing+5 Political Declaration and Outcome Document. New York: United Nations. pp. 111–113 (in particular paragraphs 190 (a and b)).

[7]. Their legal status is that of ‘soft law’. Some states parties do not accept General Recommendations as legally binding, although UN treaty bodies, including the CEDAW Committee, expect states parties to act on them in good faith.

[8]. General Recommendation 5 deals with Article 4(1) and calls for the application of temporary special measures in for example, the area of politics. General Recommendation 8 deals with Article 8 and recommends the utilization of Article 4(1) as regards the representation of women at the international level.

[9]. The causes lie in: the public/private division; the non-recognition and even devaluation of women’s work in the private sphere; the impact of sex-role stereotypes; and the structures of political systems.

 

[10]. OECD Library, web page: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/gov_glance-2013-en/06/04/index.html;jsessionid=268hevcjr0vnf.x-oecd-live-01?contentType=&itemId=%2Fcontent%2Fchapter%2Fgov_glance-2013-43-en&mimeType=text%2Fhtml&containerItemId=%2Fcontent%2Fserial%2F22214399&accessItemIds=%2Fcontent%2Fbook%2Fgov_glance-2013-en

[11]. Resolution of the Political Bureau 11-NQ/TW dated 27.04.2007.

[12]. Male and female citizens have equal rights in all fields. The State shall adopt policies to guarantee the right to and opportunities for gender equality. 2. The State, society and family shall create the conditions for women to develop comprehensively and to advance their role in society. 3. Gender discrimination is prohibited.

[13]. The National Strategy on Gender Equality 2011 – 2020, specific objectives: objective 1 and indicator 1: the proportion of women members in the Part’s committees at different levels will be from 25% and above for the 2016-2020 term; the proportion of women members in the National Assembly and People’s Councils at different levels will reach 30% and above for the term 2011-2016 and more than 35% for the term 2016-2021. And indicator 2: By 2015, 80% of ministries, ministerial level agencies, the agencies attached to the Government, the People’s Committees at different levels have women as key leaders, page 7.

[14]. Law No.73/2006/QH11.

[15]. See “Who Answers to Women: UNIFEM Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009”.

[16]. UN Women calculation based on figures provided by Permanent Missions to the United Nations - See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures#sthash.WYoDy4s1.dpuf

[17]. Inter - Parliamentarian Union.

[18].  Inter-Parliamentary Union, “Women in Politics: 2014.” - See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures#sthash.WYoDy4s1.dpuf

[19]. IDEA, Paper entitled “Global Overview of Women Political Participation and Implementation of the Quota System”, July 2012.

[20]. Inter-Parliamentary Union, March 2014, “Progress for women in politics, but glass ceiling remains firm. - See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures#sthash.WYoDy4s1.dpuf

[21]. R. Chattopadhyay and E. Duflo, 2004, “Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India,” Econometrica 72(5), pp. 1409–1443; K. A. Bratton and L. P. Ray, 2002, “Descriptive Representation: Policy Outcomes and Municipal Day-Care Coverage in Norway,” American Journal of Political Science, 46(2), pp. 428–437. - See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures#sthash.WYoDy4s1.dpuf

[22]. Article by Ms. Claire Annesley at Democratic Audit, 06.02.2014, to be found at: http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=2933

[23]. Ibid.

[24]. Japan Times, 24.1..2014, web page: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/24/national/half-prefectures-set-female-management-quotas/#.VMj61kfF-Qc

[25]. Anita Vandenbeld and Ha Hoa Ly, UNDP Report “Women’s Representation in the National Assembly of Viet Nam – The Way Forward”, p.1, December 2012.

[26]. Inter-Parliamentarian Union, “Women in Politics”.

[27]. Ibid.

[28]. UN Women calculation based on IDEA, Stockholm University and IPU, Global Data Base of Quotas on Women, accessed January 2015, and IPU, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/world.htm.

[29]. Ibid.

[30]. UN Development Fund for Women, 2008, Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009: Who Answers to Women?, New York.

[31]. Gender Analysis of Law on Election of Deputies to National Assembly and Deputies to People’s Councils at All Levels (Draft Version dated 9 September 2014), Dec.2014.

[32]. Ibid.

[33].Eligible voters are approximately 62,610,289

(source: http://www.idea.int/vt/countryview.cfm?CountryCode=VN)

[34]. Please see point 23 above.

[35]. The ratio of women nominated candidates among nominated ones to be elected as deputies to the 13thNA is 31.3% and ratio of winning is 24.4% of those are elected deputies; ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to Thua Thien – Hue provincial PC is 30.9% and ratio of winning is 13.4% only, ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to Hoa Binh provincial PC is 27% and ratio of winning is 18.3% only, ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to Dung Phong communal PC is 17.9% and ratio of winning is 8% only.

[36]. Ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to Tuyen Quang provincial PC is 50% and ratio of winning is 46.6%, ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to Yen Bai provincial PC is 40% and ratio of winning is 37.3 %, ratio of women nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to Tan Thinh ward PC is 50% and ratio of winning is 45.8 %

[37]. There were 827 nominated and self-nominated candidates to be elected as deputies to 13thNA and divided into 183 electorates. 28 of 183 electorates were arranged with 100% men candidates, 41 of 183 electorates with the number of candidates in the list was only one person more than the number of deputies to be elected which is not in line with the Article 46 of amended LEDNA even under the decision of Central-Election Council.

[38]. Please see p.23 above.

[39]. Hoa Binh provincial Election Committee and Dung Phong communal Election Committee (Cao Phong district, Hoa Binh province) do not arrange the lists of candidates in alphabetical order but do arrangement at the ranks of leadership positions. The most of candidates as key leaders of Hoa Binh province and Dung Phong commune are at the top of lists of candidates.

 

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