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Opera concert promotes gender equality in Vietnam

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The opera gala concert “Girls deserve to shine” will be held at the Hanoi Opera House this evening, November 26, to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The concert will also be broadcast live on digital TV channel VTC3 and on the Facebook page and YouTube channel of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Jointly organized by UNFPA, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, “Girls deserve to shine” is part of activities to celebrate Vietnam’s National Action Month on Gender Equality and the Global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Under the direction of well-known Japanese conductor Honna Tetsuji, the concert will feature seven successful Vietnamese opera singers: Dao To Loan, Bui Thi Trang, Le Vanh Khuyen, Huong Ly, Tung Lam, Truong Linh and Nguyen Duc Huy.

They will perform the world’s popular works by Gioachino Rossini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi.

“We hope through this concert we can create a movement of soft power, bringing about a strong message to every family to eliminate domestic violence against women and girls. The concert will boost the confidence and the honor of being girls,” said Tran Tuyet Anh, director of the Family Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

According to UNFPA, gender equality in Vietnam has improved over the past decades; however, domestic violence and gender-biased sex selection as harmful practices for women and girls remain in the country.

Nearly two in three women experienced one or more forms of physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence and controlling behaviors by their husbands in their lifetime.

But domestic violence is hidden in Vietnam. Over 90% of women who experienced physical or sexual violence from their husbands did not seek any help from formal service providers, largely because of the fear of stigma, discrimination and further harassment.

The manifestation of gender-biased sex selection can be directly measured through the sex ratio at birth, and this ratio of Vietnam is the third highest in the world, after China and India.

The unbalanced sex ratio at birth was first identified in Vietnam in 2004, and since 2005, it has rapidly increased and reached 111.5 male births for every 100 female births in 2019 as indicated in the 2019 Population and Housing Census, against the biologically “natural” or “normal” sex ratios between 105 and 106.

Evidence shows that this demographic imbalance is a result of pre-natal sex selection, which is the termination of pregnancy when the fetus is determined to be female.

UNFPA’s State of the World Population Report estimates that every year, 40,800 female births are missing in Vietnam, which means that 40,800 girls are not born every year in Vietnam because they are girls. This has to be changed immediately, and it is one of the key messages of the concert.

Naomi Kitahara, UNFPA Representative for Vietnam, said this concert demonstrated UNFPA’s commitments to achieving zero gender-based violence and harmful practices against women and girls.

“We really want to appeal to everyone to stop domestic violence against women and girls. And we also want to appeal to everyone to stop the preference for sons and gender-biased sex selection. Let the power of music bring us all together. Let’s unite to stop such harmful practices,” Kitahara shared.

Last month, the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender – Family – Women and Adolescents opened a virtual photo and painting exhibition, also with the theme, “Girls deserve to shine”, with technical and financial support from UNFPA and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

The virtual exhibition displayed 65 photos and paintings selected from nearly 380 entries from photographers and painters from 23 provinces and cities.

It was held as part of the celebration of Vietnam Women’s Day to raise awareness over gender-biased sex selection, to stop the preference for sons and to honor the roles and values of women and girls in the family and the society, thus stimulating a change in everyone’s attitudes and behaviors toward gender-biased sex selection.

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