Innovations urged for women’s economic empowerment
The Viet Nam Women’s Union, the World Bank and UN Women officially launched ‘Viet Nam Women’s Innovation Day 2013′ (VWID 2013) this morning, seeking and supporting initiatives for the economic empowerment of women in the country.
Under the VWID 2013 programme at least 20 awards, each worth a maximum of US$15,000, will be presented to the most innovative and practical proposals submitted in the next three months.
The Viet Nam Women’s Union, the World Bank and UN Women officially launched ‘Viet Nam Women’s Innovation Day 2013′, seeking and supporting initiatives for the economic empowerment of women in the country.
The programme is a combination of the bank’s ‘Viet Nam Innovation Day’ organised annually since 2003 and the union’s ‘Women’s Innovation Day’ first launched in 2011. The World Bank programme aims identify and fund early stage ideas at grassroots level that exhibit high potential for development impact. Since it began in 2003, it has received nearly 1,600 entries nationwide and granted more than $2.4million to 231 innovative projects.
This year’s combined programme, with the theme of economic empowerment, hopes to identify and praise female individuals and organisations for their pioneering ideas, according the Women’s Union president Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa.
Accounting for 48.6 per cent of the labour force, Vietnamese women contributed to the development of the national economy, poverty reduction, job creation and technical innovation, she said, adding that women’s empowerment was necessary in the fight to achieve gender equality.
The World Bank Country Director Victoria Kwakwa said that this was the first time the bank had co-organised such a programme with two partners, and she expected the co-operation to enhance the impact of this year’s event.
Country representative of UN Women in Viet Nam, Suzette Mitchell, said that the programme offered opportunities to identifiy women’s initiatives that think outside the box and act beyond existing, predefined parameters and traditional interventions.
“Thus, we can improve the lives of women and girls in Viet Nam and make gender equality a reality,” she said, noting that in the country women worked longer hours than men but were paid less, receiving about 85 per cent of the pay given to their male counterparts.
Proposals should be submitted by the end of June and the awards ceremony will be held in October to celebrate Vietnamese Women’s Day.
Seminar discusses MPED programs
A seminar themed “Municipal Partnership for Economic Development” (MPED) was held in the central city of Da Nang on March 13.
The event was co-organised by the Association of Cities of Vietnam and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM).
Seminar attendees included leaders from various Vietnamese and Cambodian localities that have benefited from MPED programs which were funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The seminar aims to help participants share experience and lessons learnt from the initial stages of projects in Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as make recommendations to resume the implementation of MPED programs throughout Asia.
It is expected that success stories from the localities will create a solid foundation to promote economic development in other locations.
The seminar also introduced the formulation of a local economic development strategy and shared methods related to agriculture and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Vietnamese workers in Malaysia resume work after 5-day strike
Most of the Vietnamese workers who are employed by the Recron textile company in Malaysia’s Nilai Industrial Zone have agreed to resume work after a five-day strike demanding a higher minimum wage.
A Vietnam News Agency correspondent in Malaysia yesterday reported that the Overseas Labour Management Board of the Viet Nam Embassy to Malaysia negotiated with the company about the wages for their Vietnamese workers.
Last Friday over 2,600 of Recron’s migrant workers called the strike to protest the company’s failure to implement Malaysia’s new monthly minimum wage of 900RM (US$289), which came into force in January. The guest workers were being paid the old minimum wage of 546RM ($175) per month.
At the meeting, the company’s representatives explained that the salary delay was a result of serious financial losses suffered in the last two years.
Last year alone Recron posted a loss of RM 141 million ($47 million).
The company has reported its situation to Malaysia’s National Wages Consultative Council, who are deciding how to proceed with the implementation of the new wage structure. Until the council makes its decision, Vietnamese staff will continue to receive the lower wage.
The employer agreed to pay a bonus of 25 RM this month and promised to offer Vietnamese staff extra-work to help them improve their income.
Most of Recron’s Vietnamese workforce were sent there via the Ha Tinh Industrial Development, Construction and Trading Joint Stocks Company based in central Ha Tinh Province.
At present, there are 5,000 people working in the industrial zone, half of whom are migrant workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Viet Nam.
Graduate wins public approval for honest action
Although Quang Ngai native Le Hoai Phu is deep in debt, he did not hesitate to turn in a lost jacket containing VND80 million (US$4,000) last Sunday (March 3), hoping that the owner could be found.
The man was eventually identified, and as a result, Phu has become a media sensation.
“I had never seen such a large amount of money in my life,” he said, speaking at his office in Tan Binh District in HCM City.
The youngest son in a poor family of seven children, the 25-year-old could have easily taken the money and run.
He is deep in debt: he owes the bank VND40 million and his friend VND60 million. The first loan was used to pay for his university education and the second his family’s bus-stop stand.
Some of it was borrowed from a bank to pay for his education and the rest of it from friends to open a family bus-stop food stand in Binh Duong Province.
“I remember sometimes my bicycle chain had a problem seven times a day,” he said.
Being poor for so many years, Phu said he thought the money in the jacket could have been borrowed from someone.
“I thought at the time when I saw the jacket, what if I were the man who lost the money? How would I have felt at such a loss,” Phu said, recalling his reaction.
Later, Phu was pleased to hear that Nguyen Ba Hai, 58, a Vietnamese-German, was the owner of the jacket and the money was slated to be used for heart surgery for five Vietnamese children.
Online workshop on reforestation
The event was held in Hanoi on March 13 by the Vietnam Development Communication Centre (VDIC) of the World Bank in coordination with the Republic of Korea (RoK)’s Development Institute (KDI) and the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN).
It aims to share the RoK and Japan’s experience in reforestation to promote sustainable growth in Vietnam and other countries in the Pacific and East Asian region.
The VDIC said deforestation has put local economies at the growing risk of serious damage caused by downstream flooding and climate change.
Technical Advisor to the General Director of the Royal Cambodian Forestry Hiroshi Nakata spoke highly of Vietnam’s current reforestation project covering five million hectares.
Kyung Joon Lee Professor Emeritus of Seoul National University introduced the successful implementation of the RoK’s reforestation projects with a focus on improving nursery quality.
GPS to help ease traffic nightmare
A smart national transport system has been proposed to combat traffic jams.
Transport Minister Dinh La Thang has asked the National Committee for Traffic Safety to study the proposal from the Viet Nam Software and Information Technology Services Association (VINASA).
Under this plan, global positioning systems (GPS) would be installed in buses and taxis.
A camera network and software to analyse traffic movement would also be required.
These statistics would help traffic coordinators warn road-users where to avoid congestion spots.
Motorists could observe the traffic situation through a digital map via smart phones or computers with internet connection.
VINASA chairman Truong Gia Binh, said the FPT Company had done a lot of research before submitting the proposal.
Nguyen Hoang Hiep, deputy head of the traffic safety committee, said he believes it would a good solution for curbing congestion in urban areas.
“However, a detailed roadmap and funds are necessary to effectively run it,” he added.
The committee expects to start operating the digital traffic map nationwide at the end of this year.
According to Thang, the system should take advantage of existing infrastructure to avoid wasting money.
The committee has been asked to submit a detailed plan to the ministry by June, he said.
Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of the Ha Noi People’s Committee, Nguyen Van Khoi, has agreed with the Urban Railway Management Board’s proposal to introduce electronic ticketing for the city’s public transport system.
He has asked the Transport Department to cooperate with relevant agencies to suggest suitable technologies for the conversion.
The electronic ticketing would be used for buses, rapid transit, taxis and urban rail.
Khoi has also requested the department to report to his committee by May.
Gender equality in the workplace
Viet Nam is among the top 10 countries in terms of increasing proportion of women in senior management positions after posting a 30 per cent growth rate last year.
Others in the top ten include China, Latvia, and the Philippines, the latest Grant Thornton Business Report (IBR) released late last week said.
Globally, 24 per cent of senior management roles are now filled by women, up from 21 per cent in 2012 and 20 per cent in 2011.
But the G7 rich economies are at the bottom with just 21 per cent of senior jobs filled by women.
The IBR data reveals that flexible working, while welcomed by many, does not appear to be a determining factor in getting women into top positions.
In the G7 countries, 72 per cent of businesses provide flexibility to employees, but it is only 27 per cent in China and 40 per cent in the BRIC economies.
Viet Nam is a leader in this category with over 70 per cent of companies offering flexible working hours.
But 55 per cent of businesses world-wide said they are against the idea of quotas for the number of women on the boards of large listed companies.
Trinh Thi Tuyet Anh, audit director of Grant Thornton Vietnam, said: “Given the highly flexible working hours in Viet Nam and the Government’s favourable policy for ‘gender equality’, many Vietnamese women are taking the opportunity and are increasingly proving themselves in the work place.
“Being women, we realise that there are more opportunities in senior management roles – and we are rising to the challenge.”
The IBR provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 12,500 businesses in 44 economies.
Foot-and-mouth hits northern Bac Ninh
The People’s Committee of the northern province of Bac Ninh officially announced an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle in Tien Du District.
So far, the epidemic has been contained to three communes in the districts of Gia Binh, Tien Du and Que Vo.
Last month nearly 100 pigs died of the disease and about 4,000 kilos of affected pork were culled.
In order to prevent the spread of the epidemic, the local health department promptly vaccinated the remaining livestock and disinfected the affected areas.
JICA helps increase HAPPA capacity
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has agreed to provide technical assistance to the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration (HAPPA).
The agreement to this effect was signed on March 13 in Hanoi between JICA and HAPPA with the aim of strengthening the academy’s personnel training capacity.
Under the agreement, a two-component project will be carried out in three years, starting from May 2013, to assist the Academy with personnel training and to design long-term master courses on public administration with support from Tokyo and Waseda Universities.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Academy Director, Prof. Ta Ngoc Tan, praised JICA’s assistance and cooperation commitments on personnel training, a contribution he said would enhance the competence of Vietnamese leaders and civil servants.
JICA Chief Representative Tsuno Motonori said improving the capacity of Vietnamese administrators and staff is an important priority in JICA’s support strategies for Vietnam.
Eight detained as part of pirate books printing network
Authorities in Binh Duong Province and HCM City are working with publishing company Tri Viet – First News to investigate a network printing pirated books in District 1 and supplying them to schools in southern provinces.
According to preliminary information, the network is reportedly headed by 34-year-old Hanoian Dang Thanh Hoai and eight others. They were detained on Monday while transporting hundreds of pirated books from HCM City to Thu Dau Mot District in Binh Duong for sale.
Huge purple yam weighs nearly 18kg
An enormous purple yam has been reported in the central province of Quang Nam’s Tam Ky City.
The yam is 0.7m long, 0.4m in diameter and weighs nearly 18kg – 10 times heavier than usual.
The yam’s owner, Truong Minh Van, said he had no idea why it had grown so big.
Contraband chickens seized from smugglers
Ha Noi Police seized 335 chickens on Tuesday which were being transported from the northern province of Vinh Phuc to Bac Thang Long wholesale market.
The chickens had been illegally imported from China without certifications of quarantine or origin, according to local authorities.
The poultry have been culled in line with current regulations.
Central Highlands pine forest decimated by fire
Three fires occurred on Tuesday, destroying over 120 hectares of protected pine forest in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai’s Chu Pah District.
According to the local People’s Committee, the blaze devastated over 80ha of forest in Bac Bien Ho Pine Forest and 40ha in the forest of Tay Bac Dac Hoa.
Over 300 officers and provincial soldiers were assigned to fight the flames, which were stamped out eight hours later.
Meanwhile, a fire broke out just a few metres from a railway station in southern Binh Duong Province’s Di An Commune on Tuesday night.
The blaze lasted for more than two hours. It began next to Song Than Station and damaged the automatic block signalling system on the line leading to Di An station, which was repaired yesterday afternoon.
Local people said the fire broke out at an incense factory before spreading to houses in the surrounding area, where it caused damages worth VND100 million (US$4,700).
Local authorities are investigating the cause of these fires.