The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) commits to supporting Vietnam to fulfill the promise of “Leaving no one behind,” said UNFPA Representative in Vietnam Naomi Kitahara.
Kitahara made the affirmation during an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) after the Executive Board of the UNFPA approved the 10th Country Program for Vietnam in the amount of USD 26.5 million to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
|UNFPA Representative in Vietnam Naomi Kitahara__Photo: UNFPA
The program targets those at risk of being left behind, including women and girls, adolescents and youth, older persons, ethnic minorities, migrant workers, people with disabilities, and survivors of gender-based violence.
The following is the full text of the interview.
Reporter: As the Executive Board of UNFPA has approved the 10th Country Program for Vietnam 2022 – 2026, would you elaborate the new key contents of this CP?
Ms Naomi Kitahara: The 10th UNFPA Country Program for Vietnam for the period from 2022 to 2026 has been approved by the Executive Board of UNFPA in early February with a total budget of USD 26.5 million. Following the success of the previous Country Program, in the coming five years, our interventions and initiatives will aim at achieving the three Transformative Results of the UNFPA’s corporate Strategic Plan, that is, (1) zero preventable maternal death, (2) zero unmet need for family planning, and (3) zero gender-based violence and other harmful practices against women and girls.
We commit to supporting Vietnam to fulfill the promise of “Leaving no one behind” and our key target groups include women and girls, adolescents and youth, older persons, ethnic minorities, migrant workers, people with disabilities, and survivors of gender-based violence. Rights-based, gender-sensitive, and people-centered approaches will be used, and interventions in relation to humanitarian preparedness and response in light of climate change will be mainstreamed across all programmatic intervention areas. As prioritized by the Vietnamese Government, much attention will be placed to digital transformation and data revolution to reach those furthest behind.
More specifically, UNFPA support will be prioritized on: (1) Provision of quality sexual and reproductive health services to vulnerable populations, especially ethnic minorities and migrant workers; (2) Addressing population aging and promoting social protection of the elderly; (3) Promoting youth development and participation; (4) Generating and analyzing population data for policy and decision making and SDGs monitoring; and (5) Prevention and effective response to gender-based violence, gender-biased sex selection and child marriage.
Reporter: What are your overall evaluations of the implementation of the 9th Country Program for Vietnam, 2017 – 2021? What are the most outstanding achievements in this period?
Ms Naomi Kitahara: The UNFPA 9th Country Program focused on three outcome areas, namely (1) adolescents and youth development as the country has the largest number of young people in history; (2) gender equality and women’s empowerment; and (3) population dynamics, which is directly linked to upstream and policy work. The total financial resources for CP9 was USD 21 million.
I can highlight three areas as achievements of the 9th UNFPA Country Program. The first one is on innovation.
For the first time, we piloted tele-health for pregnant women, through the new mobile app “MCH247,” which particularly helps pregnant women in ethnic minority, remote and mountainous locations to receive quality sexual and reproductive health information.
Also, to deal with rapid population aging, Vietnam’s very first mobile app “S-Health” was also launched, particularly to help the elderly population to receive health information including COVID-19.
For young people, comprehensive sexuality education is now provided for the first time online, and also, online and text-based services are now available for the first time to survivors of gender-based violence. The One Stop Service Centre was established for the first time in Vietnam too to provide integrated services to victims of violence. The 2019 Population and Housing Census as well as the 2019 National Study on Violence against Women were exceptionally successful in the application of the newest ICT technology to speed up data collection and analysis and minimize human errors.
Secondly, looking at Vietnam’s vulnerability to climate change, UNFPA’s humanitarian support has been provided in Vietnam for the first time. Recognizing the fact that pregnancy does not stop in emergencies, UNFPA quickly provided mobile outreach services to protect the lives of pregnant women in 2020 floods.
Also, UNFPA made sure that vulnerable population groups were well aware of risks of gender-based violence through digital technologies and through the delivery of dignity kits which were done for the very first time in Vietnam.
Lastly, through the 9th Country Program, UNFPA expanded its partnerships and resource mobilization base. We strengthened partnerships with our traditional development partners such as Australia, Japan, Norway, and the Republic of Korea (RoK), as well as with non-traditional partners including private sector entities such as Vital Strategies, Bloomberg, and MSD. By the end of the 9th Country Program, UNFPA’s annual budget increased by three times.
Reporter: What will be UNFPA Vietnam’s plans to materialize the targets and commitments to support under this 10th CP?
Ms Naomi Kitahara: The new UNFPA Country Program includes projects that will bring about changes in five social development areas.
(1) The first one is to create an enabling environment to support comprehensive development and participation for the Vietnamese adolescents and youth, including in disaster management policies and programs. We will focus on expanding mechanisms/platforms for dialogue between policy/decision makers and young people, particularly vulnerable youths including ethnic minorities, migrant workers, and young persons with disabilities, and capacitating young people for their effective participation in dialogue sessions at both national and sub-national levels. UNFPA will partner with youth-led organizations, especially those led by vulnerable youth, in the implementation and management of the Youth Law as well as its national and provincial implementation plans and for humanitarian action. We will also promote and advocate for young people to be promoted to decision-making positions.
(2) Under the theme of population aging and social protection, UNFPA will support Vietnam to enhance a coherent and inclusive social protection system by promoting the application of life-cycle and gender-transformative approach for ageing and meeting the individual needs of the most vulnerable groups. We will assist the Government in further developing legal and policy frameworks for the protection of the rights of individuals into old age and their empowerment and social inclusion in both development and humanitarian settings, particularly with regard to access to high quality health care, prevention and response to domestic violence, employment opportunities and financial security.
(3) For sexual and reproductive health and rights, we will provide information and services among the vulnerable groups, including in the humanitarian-development settings. UNFPA will focus on generating data for policies; developing guidelines and tools which address the special needs of vulnerable populations; elaborating innovative financing mechanisms including private sector financing and sub-national public financing, particularly to address emerging SRHR issues such as cervical cancer screening and HPV; and further application of digital technologies such as “tele-health” to cover hard-to-reach remote and ethnic minority locations. Strengthened mechanisms for humanitarian preparedness and response to ensure the protection of vulnerable populations, and multisectoral approach to SRHR for young people and a nation-wide roll-out of comprehensive sexuality education and life-skill education are also parts of our targets.
(4) UNFPA will enhance evidence-based and rights-based policy and program making, budgeting and monitoring based on data production, analysis and use. Our interventions will promote the application of data technologies and communication platforms to speed up the data generation process and minimize human errors. We will improve capacity of data producers to collect, analyze and disseminate disaggregated data on population and sexual and reproductive health issues to fully achieve the demographic dividend potentials. We will also equip policy makers with knowledge and skills on application of new data sources. Our support will explore new data set (e.g. new surveys, Big Data and sectoral and inter-sectoral administrative data) and data communication and management (e.g. data dashboards and data warehouse) to support evidence-based population policy development, which can also be used for disaster management and climate action.
(5) To support the Government’s efforts to reduce gender-based violence and harmful practices that accept violence and perpetuate gender inequality especially those of young people, UNFPA’s priorities include evidence-based advocacy and technical advice for the revision of the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control and other related laws and policies in line with international best practices where appropriate; and evidence-based community mobilization initiatives in the context of digital transformation, targeting particularly young people and adolescents. We will promote the participation of men and boys to address toxic masculinity and develop healthy relationships. In addition, we will strengthen the multisectoral response and coordination to address gender-based violence and other harmful practices at national and sub-national levels by expanding and institutionalizing the model One Stop Service Center by state agencies and front-line social organizations.- (VNA/VLLF)