Tag Archives: women

Women’s Day, Sporting Week: Girls & Ladies’ Participation Lifts Levels, Spirits In Laos

Balance is Better: participation for all the philosophy as opportunities of sport reach more women in Laos

International Women’s Day 2019 (and the associated national holiday, this year in long weekend form) has come and gone for another year, but the memories made participating in 2019’s festivities linger.

UN Report Outlines Invisible Burden of Women Market Vendors in Vientiane

Women Market Vendors Vientiane

A study on women market vendors in Vientiane has found that despite women representing the vast majority, their roles and contribution to the local economies often go unnoticed, and their voices unheard in decision-making bodies.

Every morning, Mrs. Khong rises before dawn to prepare the morning meal and tidy her modest home for her family in Vientiane, the capital of Lao PDR. As her husband and young children awake, she already has several hours of work behind her and hurries to the local market to set up her small, road-side stall selling fresh fruit and snacks, in time to catch the morning rush of customers. Mrs. Khong is worried. There have been rumours that the market will be developed and that she will be forced out or won’t be able to pay the increased rent for her stall. Her husband earns a small income labouring and without her small business, she and her husband will struggle to keep their girls in school and put food on the table.

As a hard-working entrepreneur, Mrs. Khong is already making plans for the worst. “If the rent prices go up again, many of us can’t stay here. We will have to go to another market and start over. I feel like the market authorities don’t care about us,” Mrs. Khong says.

Mrs. Khong is not alone in her struggle and anxiety for a dignified and stable livelihood to support her family. Millions of women around the world are still struggling with the economic and social dimensions of gender inequality. Put simply, women are not equal in the workplace and are still fighting for their equal rights to a good job, fair pay, safe working conditions, an adequate pension in old age, healthcare and safe water.  

The small-scale business sector in Vientiane is dominated by Lao women like Mrs. Khong, who represent more than 90 per cent of vendors in fresh food markets across the country. The women of Laos are subject to the same economic and social inequalities faced by millions of female market-vendors around the world who tenuously eke out a living in the informal business sector.

According to the Gender Resource Information and Development Centre under Lao Women’s Union, a lack of education and economic opportunities, and limited access to resources drive women into the informal sector and small-scale enterprises. The vast majority of these women fall into one or more vulnerable groups: ethnic minorities, informal workers, poor, educated at a low level, living with disabilities or residing in remote areas. These women encounter even greater obstacles to decent jobs, services and other fundamentals of well-being.

A recent push by the Government of Lao PDR to improve women’s economic position is evident in its National Strategy for the Advancement of Women, aimed at promoting women’s small and medium enterprises and economic leadership, increasing women’s participation in development planning and improving their access to services. Other recent advances include women’s growing participation in the labour market. However, many economic and social challenges remain for Lao women. Large differences are still evident in the development levels of men and women, and among women.  Whether this push towards gender-sensitive policy makes a difference for Mrs. Khong and the millions of women working in the informal sector in Lao PDR remains to be seen.

A study on women market vendors in Vientiane, titled Situation of Women Market Vendors in Vientiane Capital, has now been carried out. It was the first situational analysis on female market vendors in the Lao PDR. The study found that despite women representing the vast majority (over 90 per cent) of vendors in fresh food markets across the country, their roles and contribution to the local economies often go unnoticed and their voices unheard in decision-making bodies. Women vendors lack awareness, knowledge, skills and access to credit. As a result, some women choose to set up stalls on the street and face risks, such as being arrested and traffic accidents.

Findings of the Vientiane-based report reflect a greater proportion of women engaging in vulnerable work than men, including informal work, self-employment or unpaid work for the family business.

Ultimately, these finding will come as no surprise to women like Mrs. Khong, who after a long, hot and tiring day of running her road-side stall, arrives home to continuing her job as the domestic labourer and caretaker of her family, all while wondering what tomorrow will bring.


DPM Calls for Joint Efforts to End Violence against Women

With a number of women continuing to suffer violence, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone has called for joint efforts from all walks of life to put an end to violence against women.

Delivering a message on Tuesday to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women that falls on November 25, the DPM described the violence against women as unacceptable’.

A survey on women’s health conducted in 2014 showed that one in three married women suffered at least one kind of violence. Seven percent experienced sexual violence from husbands or partners and 12 percent suffered physical violence.

A number of Lao girls suffered sexual violence. A survey on child violence conducted previously found that 94 of 1,000 births were delivered by girls aged between 10-19 years, which is the highest numbers of young girls delivering births compared to countries in the region. Five percent of these girls did not want to have sex before 18 years, according to Dr Sonexay.

Globally, one in every three women or about 35 percent of women and girls experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by their husbands or partners. More than 700 million women have been forced to marry when they were young, the DPM said, citing statistics.

Worse, as many as seven in 10 women are suffering sexual violence in some countries.

Dr Sonexay stated that violence against women has been caused by discrimination against women, uncivilised and outdated traditions, superstition, poor education and gender views among others.

The occurring violence has caused physical and spiritual impacts on women, depriving them from participating in the development process, he said.

The violence against women has brought negative impacts on socio-economic development. It is an enormous obstacle for gender equality.

In a move to address the issue, the UN General Assembly adopted in 1979 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to which 189 countries have been state parties to the convention that came into force in 1981. A number of action plans have been undertaken to protect the rights and interests of women and girls.

I n Laos, a policy has been implemented to promote and develop women and girls in an attempt to ensure they enjoy equal rights politically, economically, socially and culturally as men and boys do and ensure that their interests are protected, Dr Sonexay said.

In an effort to put an end to the remaining violence against women and girls in the country, Dr Sonexay called for all sectors in society to intensify the campaign and awareness-raising to change outdated traditions, discriminatory attitudes and view s toward women.

He pressed the need to provide necessary assistance to victims of violence, ensure women have access to education and training, employment and services, while carrying out activities and enforcing laws to eliminate any violence against women and children.

Increasing regional and international cooperation in the fight to eliminate all forms of domestic violence will also contribute to addressing the issue.

Source: Vientiane Times

Women Need Greater Empowerment in Agriculture

Women play important roles in the agriculture and forestry sector but women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender roles is still limited, particularly in rural areas.

Different sections within the agriculture and forestry sector, especially some departments, divisions and some projects implementing policy in the field, still lack understanding of women’s empowerment and the meaning of gender roles.

Head of the Women’s Empowerment and the Mother and Child Division under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ms Sisomphet Souvanthalisith, highlighted the issue at a meeting in Vientiane last week.

The coordination of women’s empowerment and gender role activities at each level is not yet adequate, especially amongst staff and some coordinators in the field, Ms Sisomphet said.

Some staff don’t understand the role of the Women’s Union or comprehend women’s empowerment activities, she added. Gender policy implementation through to planning and inspection has not progressed while the use of gender role information and statistics in each activity is not being effectively promoted and the number of women participating in decision making is still limited, she added.

However, through women’s empowerment and gender role implementation in previous years, the Women’s Empowerment and Mother and Child Division has enjoyed some success in including more women in decision making.

Women in the sector have also received training on various topics and techniques to assist in their empowerment.

The ministry’s five year Gender Equality Strategy Plan from 2011-2015 advised that the number of women staff and farmers participating in the formation and discussion of documents should reach 60 percent of total participants.

The number of female staff and farmers participating in training was targeted at 35 percent, while the actual number hit 35.90 percent last year.

The division also planned that the number of women farmers participating in technical and occupational training for skill development should be at least 45 percent, with the actual figure coming in at 45.2 percent.

The strategy also planned to increase the percentage of female staff in each entry level role that go on to attain a decision-making position to 15 percent, while the figure attained exceeded the target at 19.6 percent.

The division now aims to create opportunities for at least 30 percent of female staff at every level to develop their education in the years ahead.

At the meeting, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Khambounnat Xayanon, stressed that each sector under the ministry should pay more attention to promoting women’s empowerment and gender roles in order to increase women’s participation. He noted that this could be achieved through closer cooperation and coordination.

Some 115 people participated in the meeting, of which 69 were women from different divisions of the agriculture and forestry sector around the country.

Source: Vientiane Times

Women, Children’s Rights Being Protected

Laos has confirmed that it will continue to promote and protect the rights of children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Lao Women Make Strides in Gender Equality

Vangvieng district: More than 40 officials from the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism attended a two-day workshop here from September 5-6 on gender equality in 2016-2020.

Women Lack Understanding of Gender Equality: Project Report

The Vientiane Commission for the Advancement of Women and Mother and Child Affairs needs to create greater understanding of gender equality

Commission Says Violence against Women Still a Major Concern

Violence against women and especially domestic violence remains an issue in Laos, a recent study undertaken by the National Commission for the Advancement of Women (NCAW) has revealed.