Press Release

Asia-Pacific countries share ways to prevent violence against women

4 July 2019

Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) is a global issue that requires efforts from all sectors and people, 1 in 3 women (35%) worlwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. While in Asia and the pacific, it ranges from 15 percent in Bhutan, Japan, Lao PDR and the Philippines to 68 percent in Kiribati and Papua New Guinea.

Lao PDR through the Women Parliamentarians Caucus is hosting regional parliamentarians meeting organised by APDA to discuss the unfinished business of eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG). Parliamentarians from over 13 countries, civil society organizations and the United Nations gathered in Vientiane, Lao PDR from 4th-5th July 2019 with the support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

“In the past as in the present time the countries in the region and in the world have experienced many challenges, especially poverty, the gap in development between the rural areas and cities and between the countries, natural disasters and deterioration of the environment linked global warming, diseases, violence against women and girls and etc. This becomes the threat and the hot point in the families, the societies and countries in the region and the world, which have to be prevented and solved.” Dr. Somphou Douangsavanh, Member of the National Assembly Standing Committee, Chair of the Social and Cultural Committee, Chair of the Lao Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (LAPPD).

2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1994 International Conference on Population Development (ICPD), which brought forward the importance of reproductive health and rights and its linkage to gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year also sees the national and regional reviews of the Beijing 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (FWCW) and its Platform for Action, which firmly set women’s rights as human rights. Life free from violence is one of the 12 critical areas identified.

“While great progress has been made, many of the goals we expected to realize have not been achieved yet. Preventing unwanted pregnancy through universal access to reproductive health information and services is one of them. Of all the unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy due to sexual violence and coercion is most tragic to the women and girls concerned. In an environment where women’s status is low and violence is prevalent, it is still difficult to avoid unwanted pregnancy.” Said by Dr. Osamu Kusumoto, Executive Director, APDA

In Asia and the Pacific a lot of progress has been made on women’s empowerment over the past years. However, Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violation in our world today and happens irrespective of income, age, nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, disability or other background. This is a major obstacle to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Violence against women is a symptom  of a deep rooted power imabalance in societies.  Ensuring girls and boys are raised on the principles of gender equality is essential for lasting change. That is why the Noi framework which tackles inequality and inequity is such a powerful instrument ”, said Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative  in Lao. 

Parliamentarians have convened to commit themselves to the Plan of Action to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls, including child, early and forced marriages, unwanted pregnancies and human trafficking, and empower them.

It is also a part of actions to accelerate ICPD agenda in order to meet national and global targets. Nextweek the Government of Lao PDR and development partners will celebrate World Population Day in Vientiane, Lao PDR as well as commemorate the 25th year anniversary of ICPD.