The role of women in Vietnamese society: From the past till now

By the integration and globalization nowadays, the societies all over the world have developed. Through the development, the role of women in general as well as the role of Vietnamese women completed changed not only in families but also in society. Staying at home is not the only thing they can do, now they can also have their participation in society. Let’s see the position of Vietnamese women in the past and how it has changed in recent days.

At the beginning

In Vietnam, the matriarchy appeared during the Late Paleolithic. At that time, women were respected more than men since men did not have controls in economic. Women were responsible for gathering fruit, cropping, breeding as well as delivering food, therefore they had more power in the tribe. It can be said that, this economic form during this period make the women’s role become important.

During Feudal period

However, by the development and changes of history, the matriarchy was replaced by the paternity. After China came and maintained their domination over Vietnam for more than a thousand years, Chinese culture affected Vietnamese tradition. The Chinese ruled and educated Vietnamese people with their literature and ideas, especially the Confucianism. Under the Confucianism, women were influenced hard. With the paternity, women were not recognized, only men were the head of the family and society. Therefore, women were hardly treated equally as men in all aspects of life.

In the family, women had to do all the houseworks, take care of their husbands, their parents as well as take care of children and raise them. The family is the core of society under the view of the Confucianism, however the Confucianism refused to recognize the important role of women in family although they did everything and took care of family. Women have always subjected the Confucian rule of the following submissions: submission to the father before their marriage, submission to the husband during their marriage and submission to the elder son when widowed. Women were always depend on men. They were raised and educated that they had to obey and respect their father in order to become a good daughter and good wife. They had no voice in family things as well as no decision in solving family’s problems.

Regarding to work and education, women did not have any works outside their family. They only stayed at home, did family works in term of agriculture jobs such as breeding, cultivation, etc. and took care of their children. In this period, a few of women could study. Most of women in rural areas were illiterate. Only some women from rich families could study, but they could not study high. They just studied enough to make their fathers and their husbands feel happy. It was ridiculous and unfair. Moreover, women should learn how to cook well, how to become a good wife and mother.

One more unfair thing that women had to submit was that they cannot decide how many babies they want to have since they had to give birth until they have a son. The paternity emphasized that only men can inherit family membership and the family estate. It can be said that for people during this period “A single boy, that is positive; ten girls, that is still negative”. Therefore, only men could attend and become members of the civil service.

It can be seen that during this Feudal period, women were invisible in the society and even in their family. They had no voice, no decision as well as they could not say what they think. Even in the marriage, they still had no right to choose the person they want to marry. And when they are not happy with the marriage, they could not divorce, only the men could request a divorce.

In the Colonial period

The Feudal period was replaced by the Colonial period began when the French and American came to Vietnam. During this period, by the influences of freedom ideas from these two countries, there were less strict regulations for Vietnamese women than in the Feudal period. Moreover, with the Vietnamese war, women had to go out and they had a specific role in the background supporting. However, women in rural areas still were invisible and had no balance role.

Furthermore, women’s position moved to new step after the victory of revolution in 1945. The government officially admitted the equality between men and women. For example, women can attend to school like men.

In recent days

Nowadays, with the development of society and economy, Vietnamese women are being more independent than the past. Now they is getting the balance role in families as well as in societies. The thinking of Vietnames about women now is changed. Women now no need to worry about the social barriers or social prejudices.

In families, they no longer stay at home as well as no longer do all houseworks alone. These family things now are the responsibilities of all men and women. Women now can ask their husbands to help them do house works and take care of children. They also can participate in decision making in family problems.  In the society, women can go to school and can do social activities like men. The amounts of women who have their own business as well who take part in the political system are increasing.

However, the Confuciasim idea still has influences. Some men still think that the houseworks are women’s responsibility as well as women should stay at home. Especially in rural areas where the poor people live. Because of the poverty, most of the families just pay attention to raising only one child, especially the boy. Therefore, a lot of women and girls become the victims of human trafficking in term of child labor, sex trafficking, and so on. Most of them are lured by the pimps and human traffickers since they think they can get advancement in order to help their families.

It can be summarized that in the integration and globalization trend, the Vietnamese women’s role and position in the society are admitted and are getting balanced compared to men. However, there are still other side where women are not respected. The more the society develops, the more chance Vietnamese women have. They are a half of the world, therefore their role and position in families as well as in society should be considered more.


Nguyen, D.V (2008). Vietnamese women, the past and the present. Rertieved from

Library of Dong Nai (n.d.). Position and role of Vietnamese women through the history timelines. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *