Le Ngoc Bich Ly


This paper contributes to a feminist critique of multiculturalism by presenting the complexity of the relationship among the state, religion and women in the context of Vietnam. By taking the Evangelical Church of Vietnam—South as a case study, and based on both primary and secondary data obtained from in-depth interviews with 38 Vietnamese female and male church leaders in 2014–2016, and four months of fieldwork in southern Vietnam between February and May 2016, the paper argues that the assumption of equal rights and citizenship status for all women in the wider society according to the liberal model of multiculturalism cannot be directly applied in Vietnam. State religious policies in this country play a significant role in the double reduction of Christian women’s and status in terms of leadership first in the wider society and second in the religious community itself despite the existence of national advanced gender law and the government’s tight control of religious groups. The failure of both this church and the government in upholding the governmental gender policies within this religious organization has complex causes rights embedded in the context of Vietnam. This paper looks into the government’s political concern rather than gender one in its management of religion and the ECVN’s theological, political and social stance as main causes of the gender problem.

Author Biography

Dr. Le Ngoc Bich Ly received her PhD degree in Inter-Religious Studies from the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia in 2017. Since then, she has been working as a faculty member of the International PhD program in Peacebuilding at Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Her research focuses on Gender Issues in Religion, Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding.