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30 August 2022, Vientiane Capital - The National Commission for the Advancement of Mothers and Children (NCAWMC),in partnership with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)  and financially supported by the Government of Australia, convened the endorsement and dissemination meeting for the ‘‘Standard Operating Procedures for Coordination, Governance of Coordination and Referral Pathways for Women and Girls Subject to Violence”.

This meeting gathered stakeholders from sectors: health, social, justice and police as well as relevant line ministries and development partners working on the response to gender-based violence. 

The Coordination SOP is the result of intensive technical consultations amongst all sectors under the leadership of the NCAWMC. It is aligned with the internationally recognized Essential Services Package for Women and Girls Subject to Violence (the ESP). It is also a significant step forward for Lao PDR, ensuring that all sectors are responding to violence against women in a coordinated and collaborative way.

Similar to the global average, the 2014 National Survey on Violence Against Women in Laos, showed that 1 in 3 women experienced at least one (physical, sexual and/or emotional) type of violence in their lifetime. Yet, only around 10% of survivors reported or sought services from authorities such as health centres, women’s organisations, or police. 

In Laos, responding to violence against women is not yet systematic and institutional. Fragmented approaches using good intentions and ad hoc measures because no standardized mechanism was in place to assure quality services and response.

Establishing SOPs for all relevant sectors, particularly the coordination SOP, is critical to strengthen systems and create a framework for sectors to work vertically, as well as horizontally. Meaning, there is no “wrong door” for  survivors to walk through if they are seeking help - be it a hospital, a district Lao Women Union (LWU) office, a shelter, by calling LWU helpline or going to the closest police station. The coordination SOP once rolled out will enable all service providers to provide care based on their role and be trained to refer to other services and sectors.

Dr Inlavanh Keobounphanh, Vice Standing Chairperson of NCAWMC and President of LWU said: “The coordination SOP will guide our professional and skilled GBV service providers all around the country. It is important that when a woman or girl subject to violence contacts a service provider, she feels safe, respected, and is given agency and choice regarding the care and services she needs”.

The government of Lao PDR has recognized the importance of eliminating violence against women and girls through the Law on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Children (2014), and the Five-Year National Plan of Action on the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Children (2021-2025) as well as commitments made to the International Conference on Population and Development “ICPD25”, to CEDAW and to Beijing Platform for Action. 

Ms Mariam Khan, UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR said: “The SOP guides the national coordination of a high-level steering committee of key ministries that respond to GBV. It also sets up a Referral Pathway for GBV survivors - a pathway that helps service providers guide survivors of VAW/GBV, on what services are available  and where including-medical, psycho-social support, police assistance and legal/justice support”.

Following this endorsement, the SOPs will be implemented in target provinces, before progressively scaled up nationwide. 


UNFPA, the UN's sexual and reproductive health agency, works in over 150 countries including Lao PDR, to achieve zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning and zero gender-based violence.

For more information please contact:

Ms. Sisouvanh Vorabouth

Programme Gender Analyst, UNFPA Laos



Fatima-Zahra Benyahia 

Partnership and Innovation Specialist, UNFPA Laos