News

Girls having seat at the table on youth policy development processes

29 May 2019

Effective policy is essential to enhance capacities and provide opportunities for adolescents and young people, which will help them fulfilling their potential and being able to make choices for their own future.

The government of Lao PDR has been developing the first-ever National Adolescent and Youth Policy focuses on collaboration, youth engagement, capacity building, skills and knowledge management as well as raising awareness on different issues of importance to young people. This policy is being developed through a series of consultations with stakeholders, youth groups from community to ministry levels with support from UNFPA.

In May 2019, a group of adolescent girls travelled miles away from hometown in Sepon District to participate in the stakeholder consultation workshop in Kayson City, Savannakhet Province. Attending the workshop were by Deputy Secretary General of Lao Youth Union, Ms. Vilayvone Phanthavong and Ms. Mariam a. Khan, UNFPA Representative in Lao PDR and other provincial, district authorities.

The consultation recognised the important played by young people and integrated invaluable perspectives from young people in community to central levels. It provided space for the girls to engage, share their opinions, including suggestions and solutions on matters related to them.  

Speaking at the event by Ms Phanthavong, “according to the 2015 Census, about 60 percent of the Lao population is between 10-24 years of age. They are beneficiaries and targets of current policies, but they are also agents of change. Their participation today will significantly contribute to social and economic development. Therefore, it is essential to recognise the role that adolescents and young people can and must play as assets and problem solvers while discussing sustainability of the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Ms. Khan emphasised, “to meet the SDGs we need to provide more space for young people to have a seat and ensure we listen and respond with solutions that we design with them. That is how we can tackle the unfinished business of rights and choices for all”.

Ms. Toun, 17, from Alay village, said she enjoyed taking part in the discussions, group work and learned about the policy, Noi 2030 Framework that linked to Nang Noi-Girls Group Activities at her village. As resulted she summarised the 5-proposed solutions to strategic implementation of the policy, there were

  1. Young people should be well explained on how the policy will be implemented, monitored and how can they participate, for instance on educational and vocational skills development
  2. Duty-bearers, especially policy makers should pay visits to community level and learn about the situations at grass-root level.
  3. All international organisations, UN agencies, donors, INGOs, CSOs and private sectors should provide regular support
  4. Assessing the results of policy implementation with beneficiaries in villages individually 
  5. Duty-bearers should meet and discuss for action plan regularly

 

The outcomes of this event will be summarised and proposed to the national secretariat committee for guiding and effectively formulating the strategic implementation plan for the policy.

Building up on the recommendations from CEDAW committee to the Government of Lao PDR regarding addressing the root causes of early marriage and carry out public awareness-raising programmes to end such harmful practices, including campaigns on the negative health, education and livelihood consequences of early pregnancy and marriage for girls. The policy development is one of 7 key components of the Noi Ecosystem to achieve the Noi 2030 Framework and to meet the three transformative results.