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Beyond words: advancing gender equality in change policy and programming in Vietnam

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M. Coulier
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At this present time, climate change is already impacting communities all over Vietnam, endangering people’s livelihoods and undermining national initiatives aiming to reduce poverty and promote socio-economic development. These impacts are not gender-blind, with gender norms having a significant influence on how best to respond to climate impacts. With this in mind, Australia Aid and Care International have produced this policy brief on the topic of advancing gender equality in climate change policy and programming in Vietnam.

The brief provides an overview of the policy and programmatic landscape in Vietnam over the last decade, with a particular focus on policies post-2012. The Vietnamese Government has shown an on-going commitment to addressing climate change, with a number of extensive domestic policy frameworks on climate change, disasters, and green growth being adopted since 2007. The most important, the National Climate Change Strategy, sets forward specific directions on adaptation and mitigation, including emissions reduction targets until 2050. Gender equality has also recently been a focus, with the approval of the National Action Plan on Gender Equality, due for implementation in 2020.

The following section discusses how these initiatives integrate and address gender inequality, including possible entry-points for the promotion of gender equality. The next section then discusses the challenges that arise from such a policy synthesis. Highlighting the impact of gender stereotyping, a lack of gender training, and the ease with which gender is considered only as an afterthought in climate change and disaster responses, the authors argue that such barriers contribute to a lack of action.

Finally, the brief offers a number of recommendations to help policy-makers move beyond words, and on to action. Some of these recommendations are highlighted in the key messages of the policy brief:

* In planning and implementing climate change interventions, gender is increasingly recognised as a decisive factor to incorporate. Heavy workloads, limited decision-making power, and unequal access to and control over resources can all prevent Vietnamese women and men from adopting effective strategies to adapt to a changing climate.
* The Vietnamese Government has developed a comprehensive and ambitious policy framework on climate change and disasters, as well as on gender equality. More recently, a clear political commitment to addressing gender issues within the context of climate change has emerged.
* While this high-level ambition has been translated into action is some areas, especially disaster preparedness and response, progress in many other sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and natural resource management has been very limited and requires more action.
* Recommendations for Vietnamese policy-makers to further translate ambition into impact include: elimination of gender stereotypes; ƒparticipatory gender mainstreaming and analysis; ƒquotas on women’s leadership and participation in decision-making; ƒexpanded mandate of the Women’s Union; ƒgendered M&E and reporting; institutionalising training on gender; ƒexpert networks including male allies; ƒmulti-stakeholder gender and climate change dialogues and reviews; ƒand advocacy and action at the regional and international level.