30 November 2016, Vientiane Capital – the National University of Laos (NUOL) and National Commission for Advancement of Women (NCAW) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNWOMEN, CARE International, Gender Development Associate, Association for Development of Women and Legal Education and British Embassy; organized an awareness raising activity under the 16-Day Activism to end violence against women and girls. The aim is to increase understanding of young people on the issue and mobilize their support to stop all forms of violence against women and girls.
With more than half of the population below 25 years old, young people play crucial for the current and future development of Lao PDR. If Lao PDR is to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend investment in adolescents, in particular adolescent girls and young women, is a must now.
Ms Somchanh Bounphanmi (PhD), Vice President of NUOL said at the opening that: “To achieve sustainable development by 2030, ending violence against women and girls should be a priority for everyone . This is not only a woman’s issue; it affects the whole family, community and the nation ”
She added that it is essential that students aware of the issue and be part of addressing the issue: “As today ‘s students who will flourish and become the future leaders, you have a key role to play to make sure that women and girls’ lives are safe and without any forms of violence.”
Violence against women and girls is socially embedded and hidden. Its effects remain with women and children for a lifetime, and can pass from one generation to another.
According to the Lao National Survey on Women‘s Health and Life Experiences 2014 which was launched in 2015 – 1 in 3 ever partnered women reported to have experienced at least one type of violence by their partners or husbands: physical, sexual and emotional violence. Half of women who had experienced physical and/or sexual violence never told anyone because of fear and shame.
Ms. Chansoda Phonethip, Director General of the National Commission for the Advancement of Women Secretariat said, “Lao PDR has adopted a constitution and laws that empower girls and women and address violence against women and girls. The National Action Plan on Violence against Women and Children and the Law on Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women and Children were endorsed in 2015. It is our priority now to focus on increased financial investment and legal enforcement with a view to prevent violence and to ensure that appropriate response mechanisms are in place in all sectors.”
Violence happens to women regardless of their age, but adolescent girls and young women are particularly vulnerable. The recent study on violence against women indicates that adolescent girls are more likely to be exposed to sexual violence. About one in 9 girls aged 15-19 are currently experiencing sexual violence by their partners. About 5 percent of women had unwanted first sexual intercourse prior to the age 18, according to the Violence against Children survey.
Ms Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Representative said: “Adolescenthood is an emotional and vulnerable period in live for both boys and girls and experiencing violence in any form will have a lifelong impact.
Violent relationships will have severe consequences and both short- and long-term negative effects on the development of adolescents and young girls. Youth who experience violence are more like to engage in high-risk and unhealthy behaviors and have low education performance.”
She added at the closing: “Violence against women and girls is not acceptable. We need to break the silence to end violence against women in particular starting from the young generation and by involving men. Because every woman and girl has the right to live free of gender-based discrimination and violence. This is an imperative not only for the dignity, human rights and well-being of women and girls, but for our common humanity and our common future.”
Lao National Survey on Women’s Health and Life Experiences 2014 full report in both Lao and English versions can be accessed at http://lao.unfpa.org/
For more information please contact:
Ms. Kay Amphone, Communications Associate – UNFPA Lao PDR
Tel: +856 21 315547
Fax: +856 21 31353051