English Review
ASEM High-Level Dialogue on “Women's Economic Empowerment amid the COVID-19 Epidemic”
11:06 AM 2020-10-14
(LĐXH)- On October 12, the High-Level Dialogue of the Asia-Europe Cooperation Forum (ASEM) on "Promoting Women's Economic Empowerment amid the COVID-19 Epidemic" was coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) organized a solemn opening in Hanoi.
Dialogue is an initiative proposed by Vietnam and strongly supported by ASEM members, including eight countries as Australia, China, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan and Norway.
The meeting aims to provide a platform for ASEM Partners to promote regional and inter-regional cooperation on women's economic empowerment and inclusive growth in the digital age, as well as rebuilding more equal, inclusive and resilient socities in the post-pandemic recovery.
The event will also highlight the connectivity between Asia and Europe in tackling prevailing gender bias related to economic and social inclusion by putting women at the centre and enhance ASEM's effectiveness, relevance and in-depthness in the third decade of development.
At her opening remarks, Ms Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam said: The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic: nearly 60 per cent of women around the world work in the informal economy, are earning less, saving less, having less access to social protection and at greater risk of falling into poverty.  As markets fall and businesses close, millions of women’s jobs have disappeared. 
At the same time as they are losing paid employment, women’s unpaid care work has increased exponentially as a result of school closures and the increased needs of older people. These currents are combining as never before to defeat women’s rights and deny women’s opportunities. 
In Vietnam, the UNDP-UN Women recent rapid assessment of COVID-19 impact on vulnerable households and enterprises conducted during April and May 2020 in Viet Nam (as well as UNDP-supported assessments of COVID-19 socio-economic impact in many other countries in the region) shows that the pandemic has disproportionally impacted women.
Jobs and incomes of women have been reduced in heavily-affected sectors such as garment and footwear, education, healthcare, tourism and related services where female workers dominate, temporarily pushing many of them into poverty or deeper in poverty.
The recent UNDP Human Development Index Updates for 2020 estimated that for the first-time since the index was introduced 30 years ago, poverty has been increasing globally. Women-led household, micro and small businesses, especially in informal sector, and female migrant-workers have been among the hardest hit.  
Women’s pre-pandemic burden of household work and care of children, elderly and family members with illnesses, as well as gender-based violence, have been exacerbated by the pandemic and associated social distancing, school closure and quarantine measures.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Women’s Economic Empowerment – the topic of the today dialogue – is more important, if not vital, to integrate in countries’ response and recovery plans and actions if they are to be effective.
Speaking at the opening session, Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung affirmed that 2020 is a milestone year in realizing the goal of gender equality and women's empowerment, marking exactly 25 years of implementation the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to Promote Gender Equality, 20 years of Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council on Women, Peace and Security, 5 years of implementation of the SDGs.
ASEM has made important contributions to promoting gender equality and enhancing economic empowerment for women.
The Deputy Minister suggested that, more than ever, ASEM should further strengthen cooperation between Asia and Europe, unify awareness to have coordinated policies to enhance women's empowerment to achieve "dual goals" in coping with, minimizing impacts and recovering economy after the epidemic.
ASEM needs to be a pioneer in realizing the goal of "not leaving anyone behind" and not leaving any women behind.
In line with the success of the Special Session of ASEAN Leaders on Empowering Women in a Digital Era (ASEAN 36, June 2020), the Asia Cooperation Forum High-level Dialogue - Europe (ASEM) on “Women's Economic Empowerment amid the COVID-19 Epidemic” will further affirm Vietnam's role and contribution in multilateral frameworks, as well as in regional and global efforts to promote gender equality and women's economic empowerment./.
Nguyen Thin