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The Government of Australia and UNFPA Extend Partnership to Improve Social and Health Services for GBV Responses

Vientiane, 3 June 2021 - The Government of Australia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Laos today signed an agreement for a two-year project (2021-2023) to improve social and health services for gender-based violence (GBV) response, with additional 400,000AUD funded by the government of Australia.

This funding contributes to the overall support UNFPA provides to the Lao Women’s Union (LWU), the National Commission for the Advancement of Women and Mothers and Children (NCAWMC), and the Ministry of Health (MOH) as part of the recently endorsed Second Five Year National Action Plan on Combating Violence Against Women (2021 - 2025) (EVAW NAP) to provide social services and clinical health care and mental health care for women and girls survivors of violence.

The new funds will strengthen national institutions' capacities and improve GBV services of health and social sectors at the national level and in the selected provinces. The project will equip health and social service providers with technical knowledge and skills to provide women-centered supports that prioritize survivors' rights, choices, safety, and empowerment. It will also strengthen the accessibility and quality of the health and social services to ensure survivors of violence receive the essential health and social services they need.

Key elements include building the capacity of the LWU, social, and health service providers to respond to GBV by providing face-to-face counseling and via a 24/7 hotline, psychosocial and mental health support to GBV survivors. It also focuses on strengthening immediate, secure, and safe accommodation and shelter service to women survivors of violence; provide them with assistance towards economic independence, recovery, and autonomy; and establish data collection protocol and reporting of GBV cases through the health information system.

Ms Jane Chandler, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy in Lao PDR, said “Australia is proud to be working to reduce gender-based violence across Lao PDR. Through our renewed partnership with UNFPA, we will be supporting the Government of Laos in strengthening services for those affected by gender-based violence. We are also working to empower Lao women to reduce their vulnerability to violence. Gender-based violence is a problem of global proportions. We are pleased to be playing a role in finding solutions to keep women and children safe in Laos.”

The ongoing comprehensive support UNFPA has been providing to improve GBV prevention and services in Lao receives support from the government of Australia and United Kingdom amongst others. These included the ‘referral pathway in place for women and girls’ victims and survivors of violence, including the Essential Services Package (ESP), a guidance tool that provides a coordinated set of essential and quality multi-sectoral services from the health to social services, as well as the implementation of a Male Engagement Manual on the Prevention of Gender-Based Violence and Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Health in villages in Savannakhet.

Mariam Khan, the UNFPA Representative Laos expresses her appreciation to the Government of Australia. She said, “I am very pleased to broaden our partnership, which is essential to assist the government of Laos in advancing women’s and girls’ rights and fulfill the government’s commitment to ICPD25, CEDAW, and SDGs. This will be a key element of the next cycle of cooperation between UNFPA and the Government of Lao PDR”

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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

For more information please contact:

Ms. Sisouvanh Vorabouth

Programme Gender Lead, UNFPA Laos

vorabouth@unfpa.org

Ms. Malaivieng Viengvilay

Program Officer HRD, Australian Embassy

malaivieng.viengvilay@dfat.gov.au