Viet Nam

The SIGI 2023 profile for Viet Nam provides a comprehensive overview of the state of gender equality in the country, as measured by the OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI).1 The fifth edition of the SIGI, released in 2023, assesses 140 countries based on the level of gender-based discrimination in their social institutions. These discriminatory social institutions encompass both formal and informal laws, as well as social norms and practices that restrict women’s and girls’ access to rights, justice, empowerment opportunities and resources, thereby undermining their agency and authority.

In 2023, Viet Nam obtained a SIGI score of 24, denoting low levels of discrimination, compared to an average score of 39 in Southeast Asia, denoting medium levels of discrimination, and a world average score of 29.2 The country obtained a score of 38 in the “Discrimination in the family” and “Restrictive physical integrity” dimensions, followed by “Restricted civil liberties” (10) and “Restricted access to productive and financial resources” (8).

The legal system is based on civil law, although customary laws may apply under certain circumstances. Article 5(4) of the Constitution of Viet Nam guarantees the rights of ethnic minorities to promote their physical and spiritual abilities and to develop together with the nation (Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2013[2]). Moreover, Article 5 of the Civil Code establishes that in specific cases where codified laws do not apply, customs and traditions are also recognised as an official source of law as long as they do not obstruct the State laws (Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2015[3]).

Viet Nam’s Constitution recognises and prohibits multiple and intersectional discrimination – which constitutes an essential element to enhance gender equality. Article 16 specifically states that all citizens are equal before the law and prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s political, civic, economic, cultural or social life. Moreover, Article 26 prohibits sex-based discrimination and Article 35 forbids discrimination in employment. Viet Nam ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1982, but expressed reservations on Article 29(1) regarding inter-State dispute procedure (United Nations, 1979[4]; United Nations, 2023[5]).

Gender-disaggregated, gender-relevant and intersectional data and indicators are essential to better identify policy areas that have strong linkages with gender. In Viet Nam, there are applicable legal provisions regulating the production and dissemination of gender statistics. Article 8(7) of the Law on Gender Equality promotes the production of statistics, information and reports on gender equality (Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2006[6]). Additionally, Article 12 of the Decree No. 70/2008/ND-CP details the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality by co-ordinating the entities, ministries, and agencies in charge of the production and dissemination of information and statistics regarding gender and gender equality (Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2008[7]).

The legal framework in Viet Nam guarantees women and men equal rights in almost all aspects of their life (see below). Laws governing women and men’s rights in the family, economic and political spheres are non-discriminatory. Moreover, they protect women’s bodily integrity and reproductive autonomy. In practice, however, persisting social norms and informal laws undermine this de jure equality – particularly regarding women’s role and responsibilities at home and in the labour market.

Discriminatory social institutions undermine women’s empowerment and rights in practice and reinforce traditional gender roles. For instance, following a divorce, the custody of child aged less than three years is vest in priority to the mother. This legal priority given to the mother reflects traditional gender roles according to which a woman’s identity and responsibilities are closely tied to her role as a mother. In this regard, 78% of the population think that children suffer when their mother works for pay and 52% think that men should have priority to jobs when those are scarce. Women’s ability to occupy decision-making roles in companies or in politics also remains limited, despite legal quotas being in place to promote women’s representation in parliament. Moreover, deeply rooted discriminatory attitudes can put women’s bodily integrity at risk. Over half of Vietnamese women (57%) justify men’s use of physical violence against their spouse under certain circumstances. Finally, the boy-to-girl ratio in the country is significantly higher than the natural average, hinting at the possible existence of sex-selection practices.


[1] OECD (2023), “Social Institutions and Gender Index (Edition 2023)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 10 January 2024).

[8] OECD Development Centre/OECD (2023), “Gender, Institutions and Development (Edition 2023)”, OECD International Development Statistics (database), (accessed on 11 January 2024).

[3] Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2015), Law No. 91/2015/QH13 promulgating the Civil Code.

[2] Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2013), Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

[7] Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2008), Decree No. 70/2008/ND-CP.

[6] Socialist Republic of Vietnam (2006), Law No. 73/2006/QH11 on Gender Equality.

[5] United Nations (2023), Status of Treaties: Chapter IV - 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

[4] United Nations (1979), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,


← 1. The full SIGI Country Profile for Viet Nam is available at: OECD Development Centre (2023), “Viet Nam SIGI Country Profile”, SIGI 2023 Country Profiles, OECD,

← 2. SIGI scores range from 0 to 100, with 0 indicating no discrimination and 100 indicating absolute discrimination. Levels of discrimination in the SIGI and its dimensions are assessed based on scores as follow: very low [0-20]; low [20-30]; medium [30-40]; high [40-50]; and very high [50-100].

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