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Better gender equality means more resilient future for Vietnam’s garment, footwear industries
08:45 AM 19/05/2022
(LĐXH)- Empowering women could help to build forward better Vietnam’s garment and footwear sectors from the COVID-19 crisis, shows evidence from the ILO’s flagship programme.
Better Work Vietnam joined hands with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), with the support of the Australian Government and other donors, to organize the national conference on women’s empowerment during the COVID-19 recovery towards a more resilient garment and footwear sectors in Hanoi on 18 May. 
Better Work Vietnam is a unique partnership between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, with the ultimate goal to improve working conditions and boost competitiveness of these key export industries of Vietnam.
Facing the COVID-19 crisis, the programme gave gender a greater priority in recognition of the disproportional impacts of the crisis on women’s health, care duties and discrimination. 
According to an ILO study released in 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic did not only exacerbate existing gender inequalities – such as double burden for women of working almost the same hours with men while spending more than twice as much time on housework – but also created new ones, which included a gender gap in unemployment rate. 
Better Work Vietnam closely worked with its member factories to reduce risks of gender discrimination and developed guidelines with emphasis on gender dimensions to support factories in handling suspensions, retrenchment and occupational safety and health during the pandemic. 
In collaboration with IFC, amid the first waves of COVID-19 in 2020, Better Work Vietnam launched the GEAR (Gender Equality and Returns) project to help factories improve line-level productivity by equipping female operators with the skills needed to effectively perform promoted as line leader. 
In 2020-21, 80 per cent of GEAR participating factories reported higher productivity of the lines supervised by the women trained by GEAR. 
“Many garment and footwear enterprises have been doing their best to create an equal working environment, giving women more opportunities”, VCCI Vice President Hoang Quang Phong said at the conference.
He noted that improving gender equality at the workplace is even more important than ever when building forward better from the pandemic. This is in line with the ILO’s Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. 
“The Australian Government is proud to support Better Work through our long standing partnership with ILOWe recognize that the promotion of workplace gender equality, while a huge challenge globally, benefits everyone,” said Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie.
Vietnam’s garment and footwear industries are at the forefront of the country’s growth and development. They employ about 5 million people, among those 70 per cent are women. 
The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in garment and footwear industries before they started to gear up in 2022, reaching US$7.21 billion and $4.79 billion in export values respectively in the first quarter. 
Better Work Vietnam is currently supporting more than 400 participating garment and footwear factories which employ 700,000 workers across the country to improve working conditions and boost competitiveness through its assessment, advisory and training services./.
Hong Minh
TAG: garment and footwear sectors Empowering women
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