Vietnam is one of the 10 countries that perform well on gender equality. Women play an active role in contributing to the socio-economic development of the country. However, in the context of the strong 4.0 industrial revolution, women have less significant impact and their capabilities not been fully assessed. To enhance the capacity of women in the 4.0 era, there must be the participation of many stakeholders, contributing to arousing the spirit of creativity, openness, and creating development opportunities for women.

The role of women is increasingly enhanced

Women, who are no longer a weaker sex as the society calls them, are a large force, playing a vital role in Vietnam’s socio-political development. Over the past 10 years, Vietnam has completed the legal framework and policies on gender equality, contributing to the early accomplishment of the goal of promoting gender equality and empowering Vietnamese women. Vietnam ranks 97/144 countries in the proportion of women participating in politics. The proportion of women in the National Assembly is 27%; for the first time, Vietnam has a female National Chairman of the Assembly and 3 female Politburo members.

According to the United Nations ranking of gender inequality index (GII) in 2014, Vietnam ranked 60/154 countries in the world. According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, the goal of gender equality and woman empowerment is one of the three millennium goals that Vietnam achieved before 2015.

Vietnamese women, who make up more than 50% of the population and nearly 50% of the labor force, are increasingly involved in all activities in the community. In particular, the proportion of female business owners in Vietnam was 27.8% in 2018, which is the highest in Southeast Asia. This shows that the national strategy on gender equality for the period 2011-2020 has been properly implemented by Vietnam to raise awareness, narrow gender gaps, and empower women.

The image of women participating in economic development is no longer strange in today’s society 

Promoting women's capacity with practical initiatives

The recent “Doing Business in Vietnam: Evaluation of Women-Owned Enterprises" report published by VCCI shows that although Vietnam has the highest percentage of women-owned enterprises in Southeast Asia, most businesses remain small or micro scale. Women-owned small and medium enterprises face many difficulties related to gender issues such as accessing capital, information, knowledge, skills and business networks. Tackling difficulties and supporting women-owned businesses will both help them exploit the potential for growth and contribute to improving women's economic power.

Therefore, to improve the effectiveness of women's contributions to business and social achievements, there is a need for stronger participation of all stakeholders from the Government, enterprises, social - professional associations, NGOs, society, and families. The Women's Union at all levels and the Vietnam Businesswoman Association also create many connection programs, providing opportunities for women to develop their capacities.

In the past few years, many large enterprises have been actively involved in women's development activities with global initiatives applied in Vietnam, contributing to improving women's capacity in business and community activities. The Coca-Cola 5by20 initiative is implemented in 64 countries including Vietnam, to empower 5 million businesswomen who are contributing to the company's global value chain by 2020. These managers may be the farmers or artisans, who were able to overcome the barriers to succeed thanks to the 5by20 initiative.

Entering the Industry 4.0 era, many women are facing difficulties in enhancing their skills and technology knowledge. Understanding this, in Vietnam, 5by20 is concretized by E-learning programs to provide knowledge and ability to run businesses, and complete financial planning so that women can be confident and carry out business activities to improve the family economy as well as develop the local economy and contribute to society. Thus, women have improved their knowledge and gained more managerial and organizational skills. Recently, at the "Locating women entrepreneurs in the global supply chain" seminar, Coca-Cola Vietnam together with the Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council and the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support women-owned businesses participating in the supply chain.

VWEC, USABC, and Coca-Cola Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding for the 2020 cooperation program to support women businesses participating in the global supply chain

Bringing women into the center to directly participate in running businesses is the effort Coca-Cola is making in Vietnam. Currently, there are 12 EKOCENTERs built by Coca-Cola throughout the country. Along with that, 2,368 women benefited from knowledge sharing programs and business consulting support. In particular, Dong Thap EKOCENTER is the first social enterprise model operated by women with many contributions to the community.

Not only participating in economic development, Vietnamese women also practice social responsibility very cleverly and effectively, through practical and meaningful programs such as turning waste into money in the Greenhub's network of reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic waste in cooperation with Coca-Cola Vietnam. The image of Vietnamese women gradually changing their lives, families, and communities is partly a demonstration of the efforts of businesses in supporting women's development.

The women are practicing environmental social responsibility in Ha Long City in a project of Greenhub and Coca-Cola Vietnam

Believing in women's capacities and giving opportunities to women through open policies and creative programs, businesses and social organizations will help women always be flowers that are increasingly shining and ready to vigorously transform themselves in the Industry 4.0 era to prove their roles and capabilities.