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Single women enjoying independent lives on the rise in Vietnam's cities

Xinhua, April 28, 2017 Adjust font size:

Vietnam has seen a rising number of women who delay or even reject completely the idea of marriage regardless of social or biological factors, especially in major cities.

"More and more of my female friends are choosing to live alone these days," Khuc Hong Thien, a 36-year-old man from Hanoi told Xinhua on Wednesday morning.

Thien said of his single female friends that they were "free, independent and open-minded."

Viewing the trend as no surprise in a more developed society, Vietnamese experts have surmised that equal access to education and employment are the key reasons behind Vietnamese women's improving financial independence, which can drive them towards a single lifestyle.

Vietnam has a reputation throughout Asia for relative gender equality, as evidenced in several reports by the World Bank, and has been cited as a model country for being able to close gender gaps in education, access to health care, and many aspects of employment since the early 1990s.

In 2006 and 2007 respectively, a gender equality law and anti-domestic violence law were ratified by the country's National Assembly, making Vietnam one in only a handful of countries in the world with both laws in place.

In its 2015 report on social inequality, the international development organization Oxfam assessed that Vietnam was one of the countries with the highest female participation in the labor force across the Southeast Asia region, mainly in the exporting sectors. In 2016, 72.2 percent of Vietnamese working-age women were in the labor force compared to 81.7 percent of men, the country's General Statistics Office stated in its latest labor report.

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

Being single can give women the liberty to grow and excel, with a great income. There are also colleagues and friends to hang out with, and partners to get together with for emotional bonding, and women have begun to ask why they need to marry when all their needs are getting fulfilled, Ngoc proposed.

Alex Nguyen, 33, a journalist from Hanoi's Ba Dinh District is a woman keen on living an independent lifestyle.

"I can afford to insist on choosing 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," Alex told Xinhua confidently.

Despite 12 years spent studying and working in New Zealand, Alex said that her ideology was not the result of being influenced by the modern cultural values of a developed country.

"I've been fully aware of how I would chase happiness since I was in high school. My way of thinking is in fact not so strange among my peers and my kind of lifestyle is becoming more popular in my generation," she said.

Alex admitted that having been back from New Zealand for three years she had faced pressure from her parents and relatives in Vietnam, who urged her to attend match-making appointments.

It is widely known that just a few decades ago, Vietnamese women who could not get married were considered a shame on their families.

"The older generation has not fully come to terms with the idea that marriage, besides being a reproductive decision, is an inviolable right, especially for women," Alex claimed, insisting that she will continue to live her own way.

According to the former UDNP's gender specialist Nguyen Thi Dieu Hong cited the finding that education and financial status help strengthen women's independence in modern Vietnamese society.

"Another contributing factor is that awareness of local people is being improved," Hong said.

Truong Quoc Hung, younger brother of a 36-year-old single woman, told Xinhua that his family, while not supporting their daughter's single life, hardly put pressure on her regarding getting married.

"She might be unhappy if she is tied to an unsuitable man, that's even worse than being alone for the rest of her life," the Hanoian man said.

Hoang Tu Lien, 43, who lives in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District, chose to stay single after her first love was rejected by her family due to the distance between the lovers. Scared of a second failure the female accountant has tried not to legalize any committed relation again, but could not deny wanting to have a child.

"I felt somewhat depressed when my best friends got married, then had their first and then second children. I decided to become a solo mother six years ago through sperm donation, regardless of my parents' objection," Lien recalled.

The right to motherhood of single women had been officially recognized by the Vietnamese government since 2003, by allowing them to receive sperm donations and have a baby through In vitro fertilization.

"People have no other choice than to get used to my decision. Days passed by, and people talked less about my single life," Lien said, happily looking at her adorable son.

While Lien's job can sufficiently guarantee her a living, she said that the feeling of being comforted by her boyfriend, who shows respect to her way of living, is freeing for her.

"Not being married but just being together allows me to feel free while still being in a loving relationship. This way I can avoid the fear of commitment," she said, looking relieved.

According to the UNDP's gender specialist Hong, the number of "single mothers" like Lien has been increasing in major cities of Vietnam such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the central Danang City.

"The majority of them are highly-educated and can earn great livings so they can finance themselves and their babies," Hong told Xinhua.

The gender expert, nevertheless, believes that legal regulations are not yet supportive enough to single mothers and their children.

"The government should make more efforts to guarantee their equal access to social resources," said Hong, adding that the supportive measures need to be more effective to help those single women with lower incomes and limited information on related policies. Endit