Vietnam's working women opting to stay single

Their numbers on the rise with greater financial independence

HANOI • Vietnam is seeing a rising number of working women who delay or reject the idea of marriage regardless of social or biological factors.

Experts on gender and population said the trend comes as no surprise in a more developed society. They said equal access to education and employment are the key reasons behind Vietnamese women's growing financial independence, which can drive them towards remaining single.

"Women don't necessarily need a man to support them any more. They can earn a good income, especially in cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City where women have fulfilling careers," said Dr Luu Bich Ngoc, director of the Institute for Population and Social Studies under Vietnam's National Economics University.

Vietnam has been cited by the World Bank for being able to close gender gaps in education, access to healthcare, and many aspects of employment since the early 1990s.

In its 2015 report on social inequality, the international development organisation Oxfam assessed that Vietnam was one of the countries with the highest female participation in the labour force across South-east Asia.

Vietnam has been cited by the World Bank for being able to close gender gaps in education, access to healthcare, and many aspects of employment since the early 1990s.

Last year, 72.2 per cent of Vietnamese working-age women were in the labour force compared to 81.7 per cent of men, the General Statistics Office said.

Ms Nguyen Thi Dieu Hong, a former gender specialist at the United Nations Development Programme, said the number of single mothers has also been increasing in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang City.

"The majority of them are highly educated and can earn a good living so they can finance themselves and their babies," she said.

The right to motherhood of single women has been officially recognised by the Vietnamese government since 2003, allowing them to receive sperm donations and have a baby through in-vitro fertilisation.

Ms Alex Nguyen, 33, a journalist in Hanoi, returned home three years ago after studying and working overseas. She said she has faced pressure from her family to get married, but is in no hurry to do so. "I can afford to insist on choosing my love with no hurry at all. There may be pluses to getting married but if I don't find my true love, I can still have a good life on my own," she said.

"My way of thinking is not so strange among my peers and my kind of lifestyle is becoming more popular in my generation," she added.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'Vietnam's working women opting to stay single'. Print Edition | Subscribe