The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), organized a dissemination workshop on the achievements of Nang Noi Girls’ Groups Project (NNGGs).
The Nang Noi-Girls’ Groups programme is one of the key interventions under the Noi approach. It started in 2017, in Savannakhet and was extended to Bokeo and Oudomxay provinces. In 2020, Nang Noi Girls Group project started in Namor district of Oudomxay with co-financing from KOICA. Adolescent girls aged 10 to 14 years old participated in life skills sessions to improve their knowledge of sexual and reproductive health, fighting social norms, financial literacy and learning about adolescent youth-friendly services access.
Dr. Sisouk Vongvichit, Vice Minister of Education and Sports, highlighted the importance of this multi-sectoral partnership with UNFPA and KOICA to work jointly for girls empowerment: “Adolescent girls are exposed to many vulnerabilities, to address them we must empower adolescent girls and that’s why the Nang Noi Girls Groups Project is important. With UNFPA and KOICA’s support, the MoES aims to scale up activities to other districts: remote ones, where there are many ethnicities and poor villages. Our aim is to support access to vocational training and combat harmful cultural beliefs.”
Laos has a young population with over half of it below 25 years of age. Young women and young men are the driving force for the economic development, social welfare and prosperity of the country. Investments in human capital are crucial to empower and create opportunities for girls to learn and continuously benefit from access to information, to be able to decide for their bodies and to gain skills that prepare them to enter adult age and working spheres.
Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative to Laos reiterated UNFPA’s support to the Government of Laos to achieve the ICPD25 (the International Conference on Population and Development) commitments to make comprehensive sexuality education available nationwide to adolescents and young people. She said: “Investing in adolescent girls to gain life skills through a full cycle of 40 sessions will result in fewer early marriages, fewer adolescent pregnancies and increase in bodily autonomy through knowledge of Sexual Reproductive Health and gender equity, which in turn will lead to more opportunities for economic empowerment for the girls, their families and communities, leading to growth and prosperity of the country.”
Since 2020, the project has successfully established Nang-Noi Girls Groups in 63 villages of Namor District. NNGGs Project trained 126 female mentors and 126 male peer educators aged 15-24 and they delivered essential life skills to 1,200 adolescent girls and 1,200 boys from Namor district. Awareness campaigns on the prevention of early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, school dropout, and gender-based violence were organized with the active participation of over 6,000 people, including village chiefs, parents, teachers, mentors, peer educators, boys, and girls.
In addition, the capacity of 52 trainers and teachers, 22 healthcare providers and 55 national, provincial, and district officials were strengthened to facilitate project activities, deliver youth-friendly health services and empower adolescent girls.
Ms. Myungjin Kim, KOICA Country Director highlighted the importance of working on gender equality. She said: “Nang Noi groups is a project that contributes to ensuring women and girls’ protection. It represents an important intervention of KOICA’s strategic plan. I am pleased to see the remarkable results in terms of gaining life skills and understanding sexual and reproductive health and rights.”