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Vietnam, Australia promote women's empowerment in the foreign service

Released at: 17:11, 03/10/2019

Vietnam, Australia promote women's empowerment in the foreign service

Photo: The Embassy of Australia

Two countries discuss policies to empower the role of women in the foreign service in the digital age at Hanoi forum.

by Le Diem

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) co-hosted the Forum on Women’s Empowerment in the Foreign Service in the Digital Age on October 3 in Hanoi.

The event was a step towards implementing an MoU signed in June by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and the Hon. Marise Payne, Senator of Australia, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Minister for Women, on the empowerment of women in the foreign service for comprehensive and extensive international integration in the digital age, thus strengthening cooperation between the two ministries and contributing to a deepened strategic partnership between Vietnam and Australia.

The event gathered around 80 participants, including Ms. Julie Heckscher, First Assistant Secretary at DFAT, various Australian and Vietnamese ambassadors of the Informal Gender Coordination Group, and high-level diplomats and other senior officials of MoFA and DFAT.

The forum took place amid an era of accelerated realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment, as part of ongoing global efforts to fight inequalities and not leave anyone behind. 2020 marks the 75th year of the Charter of the United Nations, the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men, and the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action - a historic roadmap.

As part of this global movement, the forum provided a platform for both sides and partners to share experiences in achieving gender equality, tackling prevailing gender bias, identifying the policies needed, and setting priorities for actions to promote women’s empowerment in the foreign service in the digital age. Participants agreed that expanding women’s empowerment and embedding gender equality were critical to the success and economic growth of both countries. They assessed the impacts of the digital economy on the foreign service as well as the new requirements of digital diplomacy. In this regard, the forum commended the two sides for their efforts and achievements in bridging the gender gap and promoting women’s empowerment over the years.

Participants examined strategies to assist women develop leadership skill sets in diplomacy and promote their meaningful participation and voice in all decision-making and management, as a means of achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth. They looked at issues facing women diplomats in both countries and reviewed where efforts to empower women have worked and the challenges that lie ahead. Participants also exchanged views on how to harness the opportunities and respond to the challenges associated with digitalization for women in the foreign service, sharing experiences on how to provide women with the skills needed to thrive in the digital era in the 21st century.

To take this cooperation forward, MoFA and DFAT are committed to further strengthening cooperation in enhancing the understanding of gender norms and behaviors for male and female officers in the foreign service. This cooperation will be delivered through training and capacity building for male and female officers on gender norms and behaviors, gender equality, women’s empowerment, conscious and unconscious bias, and other issues.

MoFA and DFAT committed to continue building stronger networks and strengthening ties between female diplomats. Both sides look forward to further promoting women’s empowerment in the foreign service, deepening bilateral ties, and establishing closer cooperation in multilateral forums on gender equality and other issues of common concern, especially as Vietnam takes on the role of ASEAN Chair in 2020.

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