Today is Vietnamese Woman’s Day. It is a very big deal in Vietnam, with widespread activities at workplaces and within households.
The focus of Vietnamese Women’s day is about women’s equality. In the past, the focus was more on praising women or emphasizing their value within a society that was much more patriarchal.
Common activities include gift-giving, especially cake and flowers. Within workplaces, it is customary to treat female staff to a celebratory meal, or to have small office parties, as well as the obligatory gift of flowers.
Many businesses will also treat important female clients will well-wishes and small gifts.
Relationship to International Women’s Day
The origins of the Oct 20th Women’s Day has no relationship to International Women’s Day on March 8th. Within Vietnam, the two days have become largely the same, with similar activities and messaging, albeit on two different dates.
The sentiment of Women’s Day in Vietnam is quite different to that of Western countries, where International Women’s Day is largely about feminism. In the West, mainstream media attention generally focuses on radical voices within the feminist movement, with implicit sympathy for marches, direct actions, and more bellicose messaging, especially with an emphasis on “fighting the patriarchy”.
In Vietnam, both Women’s Days have very positive sentiment and are more celebratory in nature. The day is enjoyed by both men and women.
Rights and Privileges of Women in Vietnam
Officially, as well as in measurable statistics , there is equality between the sexes in Vietnam. Most Vietnamese young women, especially in urban areas, feel as though they have all the same opportunities as their males colleagues.
Compared to some Western countries, such as Australia and Nordic countries, Vietnamese women are very active economically throughout most industries, even in male-dominated sector like construction. It can be shocking for Westerns to see Vietnamese women on jobsites operating machinery or handle wheel-barrows.
However, in more rural and traditional villages, there is a stronger social pressure placed upon women to act according to older traditions. Even if such women have all the same legal rights and duties as males, social stigmas and pressures are more restrictive of their behaviour.
One important issue for Vietnamese women is that they lack a lot of the extra female-centric privileges that are common Western countries. For example, there is no law preventing employers from asking about pregnancies. Job Interviewers will routinely ask potential candidates about whether they intend to have a baby soon. In fact, some companies will make young females sign an agreement that prohibits them from having a baby within 2-years of employment. Some employers will use pregnancies as excuse to fire female employees. Such cruel practices are illegal in most Western countries.
Best Things To Do on Vietnamese Women’s Days
The best things to do for Vietnamese women on October 20th are to:
- gifts of flowers;
- do the cooking, or take her out for a nice meal;
- do the chores for the day, like take care of the children.
It is really bad for men to forget about Vietnamese Women’s Day. However, because the day is so popular and important, and there are so many clues (such as more shops selling flowers) most Vietnamese men do not ignore the day.