Mrs. Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa
Member of Central Communist Party Committee of Vietnam
President of Vietnam Women’s Union
As close neighbors, the people of Vietnam and Laos have long-standing relationship and attachment in the struggle for national liberation in the past as well as the national construction and defense at present. With ardent patriotism, pure internationalism, solidarity and faithfulness, the special relationship between Vietnam and Laos is a rare and typical example of strong, faithful and effective cohesion between two countries for independence, freedom and social progress.
The special relationship between Vietnam and Laos has a long tradition – it was founded by President Ho Chi Minh and President Cayson Phomvihan, and nurtured by generations of leaders of the two Parties, two States and people of the two countries. Despite harsh challenges, sacrifice and hardship, the special relationship between Vietnam and Laos remains untouched transforming into a great source of strength to enable the two nations to overcome many difficulties to build prosperous and civilized country.
In tune with that tradition, the women of Vietnam and Laos have been building close bonds as comrades and sisters. As a substantial force in society, with affection and sense of responsibility, generations of Vietnamese and Lao women have made significant contribution to the special friendship between the two nations.
In the struggle for national independence and freedom, women of the two countries have been standing side by side as a huge source of support for each other. The Vietnamese women always engrave in their heart the image of Lao mothers and sisters who protected and catered for Vietnamese soldiers and cadres despite their own severe hardship. For many years, Lao mothers have actively assisted in the search for the remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers to be retrieved to their Vietnamese mothers. The Vietnamese, in return, are proud of the many women volunteers, nurses and experts who share every up and down with the Lao people, provide health care and assistance to the people along the borders. Truly, the special relationshipbetween the people of Vietnam andLaos is attributed significantly to the efforts and sacrifices of generations of women in the two countries.
Upon the restoration of peace, the relationship between the two women has been heightened. The Vietnam Women’s Union and Lao Women’s Union signed agreements on exchange of information, experience and visits (in the 1980s) and several Cooperation Agreements (1999-2000; 2004-2006; 2007-2010). The two sides exchange visits and share experience in different fields, such as poverty reduction, micro-finance, income generation, health care for women and children, family planning, rural development, etc. and information on women-related issues. Many Lao women officials have been trained in Vietnam. Cooperation activities, including get-togethers, sisterhood establishment, training, workshops, signing of MOU and cooperation agreements, etc., have been implemented in many localities, especially the border provinces (Quang Tri-Savannakhet, Hanoi - Vientiane; Ho Chi Minh City - Vientiane, Ha Tinh - Bolikhamxay, Kon Tum - Attopu and Sekong, Nghe An - Xiengkhuang, Quang Binh - Khammuane; Thanh Hoa - Huapphan; Thua Thien Hue - Savannakhet). The two sides cooperate in communication and education for women on directions and policies of respective Parties and States, prevention and responses against trafficking in women and children, support for women and children as migrant workers, vocational training and job creation for women, thus making significant contributions to the border lines of peace, friendship, stability and cooperation.
In addition to bilateral activities, women of the two countries have been supporting and working with each other in various international forums. As members of the Women International Democratic Federation (WIDF) and the ASEAN Confederation of Women's Organizations (ACWO), Vietnamese and Lao women have participated actively in multilateral activities and made noteworthy contributions to the regional and international women’s movement.
Today, with the socio-economic development, the qualification, competence and status of women in family and society has been enhanced, their material and spiritual life gradually improved. Upholding the glorious traditions, women strata in both countries have shown high unity and creativity in their study and work, in building of prosperous, equal, progressive and happy families and obtained significant achievements. The women advancement and gender equality in both countries have seen positive changes.
The Vietnamese women are very happy at the growth and development of Lao women’s movement under the leadership of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, particularly the great achievements in politics, education, health care, etc. The number of Lao women leaders at all levels keeps growing. Lao women are holding very high positions in tenure VII of the National Assembly, such as National Assembly President, chairs and vice chairs of the National Assembly Committees. Women make up 25% of the National Assembly deputies. The number of women Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and standing members of District Party Committees has been doubled since 2005, reaching 271.
Along with that trend, Vietnamese women have also made a lot of progress in different areas. The average life expectancy of women reached 75.6. Women account for over 50% of university and college students, and 62% of the top students in university entrance and graduation exams. Making 48.41% of the national labor force, Vietnamese women are present in all economic sectors, making up a high proportion in the processing industries (52.3%), education and training (68.4%), health (61%) and increasing their presence in the economic sectors which require high skills and technology. 25% of the existing enterprises and more than 3 million household businesses are owned by women. In politics, the Vietnamese women are holding high ranking positions in the Party and State such as Member of the Politburo, Secretary of the Central Party Committee, Vice President of the State, Vice Chair of the National Assembly... Women presence in the communal and district Party Committees and the People's Councils at all levels have been increased. Women account for 24.4% of the 13th National Assembly and 31% of the governmental officers from the district to central levels.
To the care and support by respective Parties and Governments, the Vietnamese and Lao women have become even more proactive for higher achievements; the two Women’s Unions have had even more active and effective cooperation, thus making important contributions to the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos. Those contributions have been recognized and highly appreciated by the Party, State and people of the two countries.
The two Women Unions were granted with noble recognitions by the Party and State of Vietnam and Laos. The Lao government awarded the Vietnam Women’s Union in 1998 with the First Class Medal of Freedom – the highest Medal of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Central Women’s Training School in 2012 with the Second Class Labour Medal and VWU President Mrs. Ha Thi Khiet in 2005 with the Friendship Medal. The State of Vietnam in 2012 conferred the "Friendship Medal" on Mrs. Sisay Ludedmunson– President of Lao Women's Union and Mrs.Onchan Thammavong - former President of Lao Women's Union. The two Women’s Unions also granted their respective Merit Medals to the leaders and staff of the other one.
The year 2012 is the Solidarity and Friendship Year between Vietnam and Laos, celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Friendship and Cooperation Treaty and 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Laos. The year 2012 is also the first year for the two Women’s Unions to implement the new Cooperation Agreement (2012 -2017) with important contents. Many practical activities have been organized by the two WUs to celebrate the Solidarity and Friendship Year. VWU recently succeeded in mobilizing 25 scholarships, 2 million dong each, for female Lao students studying in Vietnam. Besides, VWU is actively revising training programs and materials for the upcoming training course of the Lao women staff, and directing the Unions at all levels to push up cooperation activities.
In the coming time, the women and WUs of the two countries will deepen their cooperation with attention given to practical and effective activities. Treasuring the faithful traditional relationship between the two countries as a priceless inheritance, the two WUs consider their responsibility to inform and inspire their respective women, thus preserving forever this devoted, crystal-clear and exemplary relationship for the future generations of women and people of the of the two nations. This will make an important contribution to the success of national construction and defense of each country, to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.
Source: International Relations Department