Applying Ho Chi Minh’s thought on women’s liberation in the cause of comprehensive and synchronous renovation, integration and development of the country

Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Communist Review - Provincial Commissioner, Chairwoman of the Women’s Union of Bac Ninh Province
Thursday, September 9, 2021 09:00

Communist Review - Ho Chi Minh is the first thinker in Vietnam’s history to place the women’s position and role on a par with the men. He is also one of the world’s typical thinkers and leaders who always upholds the position and role of women and has made great contributions to the cause of women’s liberation. This issue is an integral part of Ho Chi Minh’s thought, clearly showing his noble humanistic thinking  and pure morality.

President Ho Chi Minh met representatives of ethnic women in Ha Giang province visiting Hanoi capital (in 1963) _Photo:

Some basic points in Ho Chi Minh’s thought on women’s liberation

The task of women’s liberation is associated with the revolutionary cause, national liberation, class liberation, and human liberation. Ho Chi Minh soon realized the great role of women in revolutionary history and practice, thereby consistently identifying women as an important revolutionary force. In his work The Revolutionary Path (Duong Kach menh), he said that “women make up the majority of the people’s force, but they are oppressed  and suffer a lot, so they always keep the fires of the “revolutionary spirit” burning . The revolutionary cause cannot succeed without the participation of women”. “If we don’t liberate women, we won’t liberate half of the human race(1). Therefore, women’s liberation is an indispensable task of the Vietnamese revolution, and is an objective need of society and country’s development.

According to Ho Chi Minh, the cause of women's liberation is not the separate revolutionary work of women, but is associated with the revolution for national liberation, class liberation, and human liberation. “Women are also among the people. If the whole nation is liberated, they will be evidently liberated. On the contrary, if the nation is still enslaved, they and their children will become slaves”(2). The  path of proletarian revolution is the only right way for women to emancipate themselves from the bondage, oppression and exploitation of feudalism and colonialism. Ho Chi Minh demanded to stand on the proletariat position to fight for women's liberation. He was always critical of the views that separate the struggle for women's liberation from the general revolutionary cause: “There is nothing more dangerous and wrong than just fighting for women's rights instead of engaging in class struggles and national struggle. Women can only achieve equality with men once our nation has gained independence and freedom, the workers, farmers and peasants are free from the exploitation of the bourgeoisie and despotic landowners”(3).

The cause of women's liberation has a very wide scope, from family to society, from economics to politics. Women's liberation, in a broad sense, is promoting women's roles and capacities, and raising women's status in all aspects of social life. Ho Chi Minh claimed that in order to liberate women, they must first be liberated from the bondage of “male chauvinism”, from injustice in their own families. He strongly condemned the patriarchal norm that “women have to hang around in the kitchen and do housework”, which entrenched gender inequality in the family and society. He drew attention to women's examples in the nation's history and encouraged Vietnamese women to boldly participate in the world's feminist movement. When Vietnam gained independence, he actively involved in drafting and promulgating the Law on Marriage and Family, considering it a “law to liberate women”. He condemned the phenomenon of discrimination against women, domestic violence, and criticized the simple and formal conception of equality in the family.

Ho Chi Minh stated that  the roles of women in the family and in society are  not mutually restricted, but they are unified and reciprocally completed. In the family, the liberated woman is actually better performing her role as  a mother, a sister or a wife in an equal relationship with men in her own family. The women’s social role is expressed precisely from their family role as the family is the nucleus of society. Well performing the mother's duties; actively building a prosperous, equal, progressive and happy family is also the social role of women. Being socially liberated is a condition for women to build families, contributing to men's appreciation and respect for women's rights. Therefore, the liberation of women in family must be accompanied by  the liberation of women in society and the enhancement of women's status in society. Ho Chi Minh advised women to participate in social work and master the country, which is their great right, and at the same time, their great responsibility that they must “embrace with enthusiasm”.

Ho Chi Minh was very interested in equality between men and women, seeing it as fundamental in the social liberation of women. When mentioning social goals in the Brief Political Program and Brief Strategy (Chánh cương vắn tắt, Sách lược vắn tắt) (in 1930), he clearly stated the goal of equality between men and women. After the success of the August Revolution, the first Constitution, compiled “under  his direction, clearly stipulated: “Women are equal to men in all respects”. He requested that all sectors and localities must create favorable conditions for women to participate in all areas of social life, so that they can promote their rights and citizenship capabilities in society.

Women’s economic emancipation is a decisive condition for achieving equality between men and women. According to Ho Chi Minh , women constitute  an important labor force so the focus of women’s economic emancipation is to liberate women's labor, creating conditions for women to participate  equally with men in all economic fields, which is also the liberation of social labor. Thus, women’s economic emancipation not only creates more opportunities for them to develop their talents and intelligence, but also meets the needs of the national economy in the cause of socialist construction which requires more and more human resources. He reminded managers enforcing the equality between men and women in labor and production by paying attention to devide appropriately workload to women, to take care of the living conditions of women and their children so that they can be fully engaged at work .

Ho Chi Minh highly appreciated women as a political force and was particularly interested in the struggle for women’s political emancipation. Women’s political emancipation must start from equipping them with theories, encouraging them to voluntarily and actively participate in the liberation struggle for themselves. Women's political empowerment is reflected in their rights to participate in political activities, join political organizations, and become leaders and managers on an equal footing with men. When leading the revolution, Ho Chi Minh always gave particular priority  to propagating and enlightening women, engaging them in revolutionary work, praising exemplary women and women's movements. Consequently, evidences such as: The adhesion of first women  in the Vietnam Youth Revolutionary Association founded by Ho Chi Minh, the establishment of women's organizations during the struggle for power, the participation of  Vietnamese women  in the General Election to elect members of the National Assembly and the nomination of  first women in the history in the supreme organ of state have shown positive results in awareness and women’s political emancipation according to Ho Chi Minh’s thought.

Member of the Party Central Committee, President of the Vietnam Women's Union Ha Thi Nga visits and encourages female officers and staffs of the Level-2 Field Hospital No.3 before they engage in the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in Bentiu, South Sudan _Photo: VNA

In order to realize successfully women’s political empowerment, Ho Chi Minh always encouraged and created all conditions for women to enthusiastically study and improve their qualifications. In launching the movement to kill the “enemy of ignorance”, he stated: under the old regime, women were excluded from opportunities, so they needed to go to school and that was an opportunity for women to achieve gender equality. He was also concerned about the female employment. He has severely criticized the prejudiced and narrow-minded attitudes of leaders towards the training, fostering and employing female cadres.

Women's liberation in all aspects, from family to society, from economy, politics to culture and ideology, has shown the comprehensiveness and radicality in Ho Chi Minh's thought on women's liberation, ensuring substantial gender equality and at the same time giving full play to the role of women in all aspects of social life.

Women's liberation is a long, “quite big and difficultrevolution. Ho Chi Minh explained that: Since male chauvinism has been “ingrained in the minds of every person, family, and social class”(5), the object of the revolution for women's liberation is not only the nation’s and class’s enemy, but also every single human being, including many revolutionary cadres who have defeated the imperialist colonialists and  a part of women. At the Meeting of Officials discussing the Draft Law on Marriage and Family (October 1959), he noted that the women’s liberation implementation would face many difficulties, so “it is still necessary to continue propagation and education regarding women’s liberation for a long time togain success(6). The struggle for women's liberation is not only about the Platform and guidelines, but also through organizational skills and leadership art. This is a tough, complicated and long-term ideological revolution. “The force of this revolution is political, economic, cultural, and legal progress. It is necessary to revolutionize each person, each family, and the whole people”(7). He concerned about taking systematically a wide range of measures and solutions: through legislation, education and ideological struggle, as well as women's organizations and the entire political system in the cause of women's liberation .

To successfully carry out the cause of women's liberation, it is necessary to synchronously combine solutions, internal and external factors, of which the decisive factor is that “Women must pull themselves up on their own. The external factors include the social environment, the Party’s views and guidelines, the State's policies, and the whole political system’s participation. The internal factor is the women’s inner strength and self-advocacy. Vietnamese women always deserve and have the right to be proud of their great role and invaluable contributions which are respectfully described in “Eight Golden Vietnamese Words” (or four golden phrases) awarded by President Ho Chi Minh: “Heroic, Indomitable, Faithful and Responsible”. From that spirit, Ho Chi Minh always encouraged women to overcome their low self-esteem, helping women to move beyond the thought of being smug about their present status as housewife , encouraging them to promote their potential ability to contribute to social affairs. Women must strive, learn, be confident and liberate themselves in terms of sentiment, psychology, intelligence and action. “To fulfill that glorious task, women must get rid of an inferiority feeling and dependence; they must have the will to be self-reliant and independent; they must keep raising their political, cultural and professional knowledge”(8). Uncle Ho aroused women's self-esteem and ability to strive for self-improvement, encouraged women to fight with themselves to pull themselves up, and contributed to eliminating other people's gender prejudices. “For their part, women should not wait for the Government and the Party to issue instructions to liberate them, they have to be self-reliant to fight for themselves”(9). He always encouraged and motivated women to make everyone see their abilities and contributions, and then they will be promoted and nominated for worthy positions.

Continue to apply Ho Chi Minh's thought to promote the role and position of women in the current revolutionary period

Ho Chi Minh's thought on women's liberation is a system of contents expressing his political views and humanistic philosophical vision, a great contribution of Ho Chi Minh to the development of Vietnamese women. Applying Ho Chi Minh's thought on women's liberation in the current situation is both theoretically and practically significantin promoting the strength of the whole nation to successfully implement the cause of comprehensive and synchronous promotion of national renovation, integration and development.

Thoroughly grasping Ho Chi Minh's thought, during the process of leading the revolution, the Communist Party of Vietnam always properly identifies the role and position of women; attaching importance to the women's mobilization work and the women's liberation cause; paying attention to training, fostering and promoting the women’s role in all fields.

Right after the Communist Party of Vietnam was born, in order to gather and promote the strength of all classes of Vietnamese women, the Party directed the establishment of women's organizations such as the Anti-Imperialism Women's Union (1930), the Democratic Women's Union (1936), the Women League for National Salvation (1941-1945) and the Vietnam Women's Union (October 20, 1946) in order to build a nucleus of solidarity, gather women in revolutionary movements, take care of their lives, strive for gender equality and the women's liberation cause. Under the leadership of the Party, the Vietnam Women's Union has constantly grown and matured, gathered a large number of Vietnamese women from all walks of life; protected women's legal and legitimate rights and interests; strived for the development of women and gender equality; thus became a solid bridge between the Party and all classes of women; involved them in social  activities to enhance their role and position in the political system, in all aspects of social life and in the international arena.

Under  the Party's guidelines and policies and the State's laws, the Women's Union work, the women's and gender equality movement have obtained great achievements. Vietnamese women have made remarkable progress to  grow stronger, making great contributions in the fields of economy, culture - society, science - technology, Party and state building and international cooperation. Women, regardless of ethnicity, religion, social status from workers, farmers, intellectuals to entrepreneurs, leaders, managers or laborers... all have united, emulated and promoted their internal strength, took part in successfully realizing the country’s socio-economic goal.

Focusing on building a strong contingent of female intellectuals and businesswomen adapting to the requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution _Photo: VNA

Vietnamese women has made important contributions and sacrifices to the glorious revolutionary cause of national independence and liberation, construction and defense of the Socialist Vietnamese Motherland. The renovation has achieved historically significant results; Vietnam has never had such fortune,  potential, position and international prestige as it does at present, and Vietnamese women also play an important role in that outcome. They have clearly shown their abilities, roles and positions in the family and society and in all aspects from economy, politics, culture, to society, defense, security and foreign affairs.

To further enhance the role and position of Vietnamese women in the current revolutionary period according to Ho Chi Minh's thought on women's liberation, it is needfull to focus on the following solutions:

Firstly, making the Party's major lines, guidelines and policies related to women, women’s movement and the organization and operation of the Vietnam Women's Union consistent throughout the entire political system, concretized into laws and policies. The State needs to have more practical policies to ensure the legitimate rights of women, take measures to create more jobs and opportunities for them to expand their knowledge, their start-up and innovation, train and foster female cadres, create conditions for women to fulfill their civic duties and their “natural duties”  concerning motherhood and build-up happy and sustainable families.

Secondly, continuing to renovate and strengthen women's advocacy work in the new situation. Party committees and authorities at all levels should regularly strengthen the leadership and direction of women's work, create conditions for the Union to well perform its functions and tasks. It is necessary to continue to renovate and diversify the forms of organization, the mode and contents of the Vietnam Women's Union operation according to age, industry, occupations, interests, regions and areas, align rights with obligations, guide all women’s classes to operate the Union to achieve the goal of wealthy people, strong country, democracy, justice and civilization. The Vietnam Women's Union shall regularly coordinate closely and effectively with mass organizations and socio-political organizations to carry out its tasks. Organizing, fostering, propagating and encouraging women from all walks of life to carry out revolutionary action movements, taking care of their lives, settling and protecting women's legitimate rights and interests; paying special attention to vocational training and job creation, reseaching and applying science and technology to develop the economy, improving their living standards and protecting the women's and their children's health. Focusing on building a contingent of female intellectuals and businesswomen during the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the economic restructuring and international integration process. Equipping women with necessary knowledge and skills in responding to natural disasters, climate change, epidemics,... Developing and implementing  development strategy for the advancement of women by 2030, with a vision to 2045.

Thirdly, continuing to emphasise  on the female cadre work, meeting the task requirements in the new situation. Accordingly, further improving the ratio and quality of female cadres in political participation and leadership in state apparatus, in  socio-economic  and scientific research sectors; having an overall and long-term plan in training, fostering, employing and promoting the capacity of female cadres; focusing on training female cadres working in the fields of science - technology, economics, law, administration and state management, giving priority to women living in  ethnic minorities,  remote areas, women practicing a religion; paying attention to increasing the number of  female party members, especially businesswomen who are private sector businesses. The employment and nomination  of female cadres also need to be corresponding to gender characteristics, appropriate industries and occupations, so that they can maximize their abilities and skills. The State should have appropriate policy of incentives to senior female cadres or ones working in remote areas, borders, islands and working abroad./.


(1) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, Vol. 12, p. 300

(2) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 506

(3) Duong Thoa: Uncle Ho with the Vietnamese women's movement, Vietnam Women’s Publishing House, 1982, p. 16

(4) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 2, p. 520 – 521

(5) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 7, p. 342

(6) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 12, p. 301

(7) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 7, p. 342

(8) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 13, p. 59

(9) Ho Chi Minh: The Complete Works, ibid, Vol. 12, p. 301

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 962 (March 2021)