The ??i M?i period began in Vietnam in 1986. This period started many economic reforms with the main goal of creating a “socialist-oriented market economy”. It was introduced by the Communist Party of Vietnam at its Sixth National Party Congress. This transition of the economy of Vietnam achieved remarkable progress in the beginning of this economic renovation from 1986 to 2006. Since the adoption of Doi Moi to present day, Quan Vuong states that Vietnam’s economy has transformed from a centrally-planned model to market oriented with four characterized sub-periods (Vuong, 2014).
He characterized these sub-periods based on the economy’s entrepreneurial perspectives, emerging cultural values, the building of market economy, and attitude toward global geopolitics and economics (Vuong, 2014). The similarities and differences in political, economic, and social histories within Vietnam provide an interesting investigation in the positive effects these legal structures had on labor.
The first sub-period was from 1986 to 1994; the period of entrepreneurial policy makers. Each sub-period had very different, yet very positive and influential impacts on the labor throughout Vietnam.
Throughout its entirety, Vietnam never really had a good economy that lasted for a long period of time. Vietnam was a very small, feudalist nation. It would constantly be invaded by China, and always had major conflicts with Cambodia. Surrounding countries would constantly try to control them since they were such a small and weak country. David Lamb stated The so-called Dark Years of the postwar period ended in 1986. That’s when Hanoi’s aging leadership, facing famine, international isolation and national disillusionment, followed China’s lead and adopted, without great enthusiasm, a policy known as doi mo, or “renovation,” to move toward a more open economy.
Some experts believe that nothing less than the survival of the Communist Party — perhaps of Vietnam itself — was at stake. The results were dazzling” (2005, 1). I agree, the results really were dazzling. As Doi Moi began, the life of labor began to become affected greatly. Farmers were granted land use rights in 1987 thanks to the Land Law. Tuyen stated the most important features of this Land Law was the establishment of a legal ground for the State to unify its management of all land capital in the country; the gradual establishment of a legal ground to enable the State to protect the legitimate rights and interests of land users; and the determination of legal rules for use of different types of land in order to regulate land management and land use (2010, 1). This was the beginning of great impacts on agricultural labor within Vietnam. Having the state involved isnt always the best thing, but in this case it is. The landowners were being protected more, and given more rights within their land. Having a small amount of land such as a garden in your backyard will have way less regulations than a large plot of land. It will help the regulation of crops and also help fairness within farming. In 1989, Vietnam grew to become the worlds third largest rice exporter, after China and the United States of course. Vietnam could thank the entrepreneurial policy-makers for being the main reason this was able to happen. The agricultural labor was changing rapidly because of this new economy. New laws were creating different opportunities and jobs for people all across Vietnam. The distribution of labor across household businesses, state owned enterprises, foreign owned firms, and private enterprises were also influenced. It was a big change that the Vietnamese had to quickly adapt to, otherwise they could lose everything they worked hard for. By 1988, farming was shifted from the collective to the household. Collective farming is when a group of farmers put together their land, domestic animals, and tools. The profits of the farm are divided among its members. Household was now farming within ones own house, using your own tools, animals, and land. This also had a positive impact because you no longer had to help out other people. All the crops you grow are yours – you do not have to split the income or the animals with your neighbors. The negative to this though, is that you may not have all the tools you need, or all the land you used to have. Its still a good thing for farming because people now have their own land and crops and dont depend on one another. Whatever you make is your own profit, not to share with a neighbor. The economy had a very large impact on these farming jobs, because it affected farmers incomes, land, crops, and more. In the Vietnam Customary Land Tenure Study, the authors stated the introduction of market principles, the abandoning of major price controls and the reversal from collective to household farming have led to strong economic growth, elimination of widespread hunger, and the reduction of macroeconomic imbalances (2005, 1). The imbalances of farming has created poverty for a lot of the Vietnamese, which then brings on hunger. Collective farming was a cause of this – having to split your crops and animals with one another. The Resolution 10 of the Politburo was a major reform that affected agricultural production in 1988. Son and the other authors who wrote the Policy Reform and the Transformation of Vietnamese Agriculture stated that building on the initial distribution of land in 1988, the new law envisaged the issue of legal titles to land-use rights, thereby enabling transfers – whether through inheritance, rental agreements, gift or sale. An important intention of the law was to create gender equity in land tenure with the names of both husband and wife appearing on the land-use right certificate.This reform distributed collective land to individual farm households on a long-term basis. By reconnecting farmers with the land, giving them reasonable security of ownership and enabling them to trade at market prices, these reforms ensured that farmers could both achieve an adequate return for their investment and work in farm activities (Part III, Vol. 48) Hunger improved, poverty decreased, and people could now trade and sell crops at market prices. Farmers now got the profits they were working hard for. Land could now be for whoever wanted it. You no longer had to share. You could even gift land to someone! This also began the equality of men and women in the farming life. Women were never able to claim land before, and this was the start. Farmers deserved to have their own land, their own crops, and their own animals. It was only right to do. In 1990, prices for rice exports were determined by the world prices on the international market. Vietnam then began to do international trade, but the official exchange rate lost its value. Vietnam shifted from being a rice importer to becoming a major rice exporter. When the Land Law was passed in 1993, which allowed people to transfer land, there was a major impact on gender. Who had title and authority to make these transfers now? Both the husband and wife’s names were on the land-use right certificate now. Following the contraction of the state economy, more women than men have been laid off because of the private state-owned enterprises. Jobs prefer to hire male workers rather females because it is cheaper and easier. This was very unfair and sexist. As a result of the reforms, Son and the other authors of the Policy Reform and the Transformation of Vietnamese Agriculture stated that the household is now the main stakeholder in agriculture, with almost 14 million households deriving 79% of their income from farming. While some diversity of jobs has taken place, the development has been slow (Part III, Vol. 48). Farming was a major part of the Vietnamese lives – and it is now skyrocketing! Farming was creating a great income for people, and was still drastically decreasing poverty and hunger. The World Bank stated Vietnam was the largest foreign direct investment recipient among developing countries and economies in transition in proportion to the size of its economy (World Bank, 1999). In other words – Vietnam was doing very well. Despite its past – being weak and having a very poor economy – Vietnam was now thriving. It had one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world. All of these new legal structures that were created during this period has had such a positive impact for the people of this nation. The impact of the restructuring process of the state sector in the late 1980s and early 1990s was not gender neutral. Men and women were affected differently by the massive downsizing program. The number of employees reduced by about a million within 8 years. Downsizing was not at all gender neutral. Women with fewer years experience and less education were often the first laid off. Despite the recent laws giving women more opportunity for things such as land and trade, there was still unfairness within gender. Rama stated that approximately 70% of redundant workers were female. Only 14% of these women had found new jobs a year after layoffs, compared to 22% of men (2001, 7). This goes to show that jobs do not hire women nearly as much as men. Women can do everything that men do – and possibly even do it better. But workplaces in Vietnam do not pay women the same, and even make them do harder work. This is very unfair because of lot of women work very hard, even harder than men. Yet men get paid more and have better jobs. In employment, women work in agriculture, hotels, restaurants, banking, education and as housemaids. Women very often restricted to employment within a close distance of their households. They often have to watch over the family while working, and are not given many job opportunities. Women take the low paying jobs close to home because it is all they can get. Women often dont even work and only take care of the family – and its not always their choice. Women have greater restrictions, in that they are more inclined to accept jobs that are below their skills and are low paid, which is why they took domestic demands, such as childcare and housemaids. Vietnam has strong gender pay differences, too. Women in Vietnam receive less compensation for their work, even if they work harder than men.. Molisa stated that Womens average hourly salary is only around 80% that of their male counterparts. Women also face a higher risk of unemployment than men: the overall unemployment rate in 2005 was 2.14%. The rate for men was 1.99%, while women had a 2.29% rate (2006, 60). Even though the 1986 Marriage and Family law states that husbands and wives are equal in all aspects of family life, it is not at all true. Vietnamese society has been influenced greatly by Confucianism, which emphasised the supremacy of men over women. Gender has been a key social construct for understanding the effects of social and economic changes on Vietnamese peoples lives. Professor Meeker told me in class that Legal reality does not always match the reality on the ground. Economic development is not only about women, but also about how relations between men and women shape different accesses to social services and labor. Women have a big role in labor – people just need to let them help.
The next sub-period, from 1995 to 1999, showed that the economic integration and adaptation of market economy was normalizing the diplomatic and trade relations with the United States. It was among the most remarkable moments in history for Vietnam. The Vietnamese were now able to work with organizations such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, which helped to greatly improve the economy. Doi Moi was influential and going strong for almost two decades with agreement over some major ideas. For one, political stability is a necessity for economic growth, and the Communist Party of Vietnam will remain to be the unique political power. Vietnam was still trying to achieve economic goals, even though they have already achieved so much. They must keep its door open to foreign trade and investment in order to do this. These ideas have been enforced through the Communist Party of Vietnam and governments socio-economic and foreign policies. Everyone must follow them. Xuan stated Foreign Direct Investments enterprises played an important role in creating jobs, paying corporate taxes, encouraging consumption and competition, and contributing to export growth (Xuan, 2008). These investments was increasing Vietnams gross domestic product rates and prices. Haub stated that by the end of the 1990s, the growth rate declined to its lowest point since reunification of the north and south in 1975: 1.4% per year in 2000 (Haub, 2003). Vietnam has achieved so much – what happened? Along with the overall achievements gained since the reforms of the 1980s, womens status and gender equality in Vietnam have also been greatly improved. Females literacy is basically even with male, which is very different from the past. Barely any women could read of write, especially older women. New women would learn – but it was very hard for elders to learn – which shows how much a change has affected the literature of women. Literature is a necessity for life nowadays – and everybody should be able to learn it. Womens participation in the paid labor force rose more than mens! In addition to those involved in paid labor, many women perform household work as a major activity. Cleaning, cooking, babysitting are all jobs women would do. Girls also appear to enter the labor force somewhat earlier than boys, most likely due to leaving school at earlier ages. They have to provide for their families and children at an earlier age, since men get a longer and more in depth education. This is also a major cause of why women are less literate than men, and why they arent able to as good as jobs. If everyone had the same education, everyone would be able to do the same work, and therefore gender neutrality would increase. In this age when men leave to go to different cities in search of higher incomes, the wives are left to tend the farm. Although women have the first-hand experience in farming, they are not regarded as farmers. They should be able to go to programs and learn about the technologies like men do to help them improve agricultural productivity. Women need a better education so they can do things like this, and also increase their ability to fight against climate risks. These are all things a farmer needs. Women have gained a rapidly growing voice, along with an almost equal share to the labor force. Haub stated that Vietnam now has the highest percentage of female experts within labor in Asia. By the late 1990s, women made up 26% of the National Assembly and nearly 90% of those had a higher education (Haub, 2003). Women are finally getting the jobs they want and deserve. So why wouldnt you want them to be well-educated? Dr. Thelma Paris, former gender specialist at the International Rice Research Institute stated there is an urgent need for research and priority setting to ensure that women benefit from modern agricultural technologies, rather than being disadvantaged by the implementation of technologies as what has often occurred in the past. Measures should be taken to ensure that modern agricultural technology will not undermine women’s autonomy, but rather will help women to gain more autonomy. Gender equality is a key factor for improving farm productivity. Recognizing and valuing womens role in farming is necessary for agricultural development. Women and men within Vietnam are said to have equal rights by law, but the reality is much different. Women farm just as much as men, yet dont get the same education as them. They should get all the resources that men get, especially when it comes to agriculture. Agriculture in Vietnam is very important. Since women make up nearly half of the farmers, modern agricultural technologies and education should be available for them to acquire, easily. Farmers who are women have a great effect on the crops made, such as rice and coffee. The program to boost coffee production in Vietnam was the idea of the World Bank. Vietnam experienced an export crisis in the early 1990s, so the World Bank had to think of a plan. The plan was to create foreign currency by growing and exporting coffee. This increased farming drastically, and gave farmers more opportunity to become successful. Rapid population growth, migration, and urbanization within this time period in Vietnam has placed new pressure on the environment as a result of land use, taking advantage of forests, and depletion of water resources. These all have major effects on farming. Agriculture has become a major key in increasing exports out of the country. All of the Legal Structures created have a large effect on the agricultural labor of Vietnam, and for the most part it helped the Vietnamese as best as it could.
The third sub-period was from 2000 to 2006; the economic boom and emergence of cultural values. Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, taking leadership from 1997 to 2006, helped improve the economy in many ways. Mr. Khai was the first Vietnamese leader who tried to strengthen diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam. The U.S. then supported Vietnams accession to World Trade Organization in 2007. Vietnam’s economy experienced prosperity with Mr. Khai in leadership. It quickly expanded financial markets and gross domestic product, had low inflation, and increased private state-owned enterprises, all under Khais leadership. The stock market was born in July 2000. From 2006 to early 2007, investors called stock markets a money machine, and this mentality triggered huge market bubble risks. People were putting all of their money into stocks. Pham stated that despite dangerous risks, the market continued to go high as capital gains were still made easily, and macro prospects looked very good with Vietnam soon joining World Trade Organization (Pham and Vuong, 2009). Vietnam was prospering greatly. People were putting money into stocks and making money from them, trading was good, and life was good all over. There was so much coffee being made that prices were going down. Vietnam had to cut down coffee trees in an effort to ease the excess of coffee and help bring prices back up. Some coffee farmers had to switch to other crops, such as cocoa, cotton, hybrid corn, cashews and tobacco, since coffee prices dropped. The government offered tax relief and guarantees of buying the harvest of their new crop to encourage farmers to switch to these other crops. Vietnam made over 500,000 tons of coffee – becoming the Worlds number 3 coffee producer. Reform of the taxation system since 2000 has involved phasing out of the agricultural tax. Alongside the reduction of the burden of agricultural tax on farmers, the state has also reduced its share of investment in the sector. Son and Beresford stated that between 2000 and 2004, the share of investment in agriculture, forestry and fisheries fell from 12.2% to 8.7% of total state investment (Son, 2006). The economy was thriving at this point on the Doi Moi period. People were making money, farming was increasing, taxes were decreasing, and jobs were available to anyone. The legal structures created during this time period drastically helped