Vientiane, 18 December 2015 - Lao PDR has one of the youngest population in Southeast Asia. With nearly 60% of the population below the age of 25 years, the country will benefit hugely from this demographic dividend if invest properly and adequately. Therefore, investing in young people, realizing their needs and potentials, involving them in the decision-making process are essential.
In order to advocate for the importance of young people in development of the country, the Lao Youth Union (LYU) supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Lao PDR conducted a panel discussion under the theme: "Youth participation in development", in Vientiane Plaza on 18th December. It aims to gather all relevant line ministries, UN agencies, INGOs, including private sectors involving in youth issue, as well as youth representatives from a youth volunteer organization and university students to discuss and share their aspects regarding the topic.
The panel discussion highlighted Youth Strategy and the results of the Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis particularly on participation; youth participation in the national planning, gender and girls' rights in participation; role of youth in 2016 election; youth engagement in local administration improvement and youth participation in service delivery.
Regarding the finding of Adolescent and Youth Situation Analysis (AYSA), young people rarely have the opportunity to contribute to decisions that are taken about their lives, at any level. In rural settings, there may be no representative for youth in the village, and few opportunities for engagement. Another reason is that particularly in rural settings the role of authority is significant and few can participate at that level. For urban youth, there appears to be more desire for contribution, but limited settings where it is possible, particularly for those whose educational level is low. It is also likely that young people are limited not only by their own expectations but also by the perceptions of parents and leaders. Without representative from organizations like LYU, there is really no "seat at the table" for young people in Lao PDR.
Barriers exist, for the participation at any level of young people. The barriers are diverse from education and skills, lack of information, limited opportunities, gender inequality, language, financial status, attitudes among elders and young people, and cultures, etc.
To break these barriers, it is essential to work together with young people as partners, build capacity, skills and confidence and create a conducive environment to encourage young people in participation in development of the country at any level.
To ensure participation of young people, we have to ensure that young people is priority and central to the development, realize and aware of the variety group of young people, provide opportunity for young people particularly vulnerable and marginalized group to speak up, and establish cooperation between young people and elders for a better understanding among each other.
For more information please contact:
Vanly Lorkuangming, Communications Associate - UNFPA Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 315547, 353048 - 9