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Vientiane, 14 June 2012 - Seventeen years ago, 179 countries, including Lao PDR, met in Cairo (Egypt) for the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The outcome of the conference was a twenty-year Programme of Action with concrete strategies to promote human rights and dignity, support family planning, sexual and reproductive health and rights, advance gender equality, insist on equal access to education for girls, eliminate violence against women, as well as focus on issues relating to population and protecting the environment.

As the programme's twenty year anniversary approaches, the world's nations are getting together again to review the implementation of its programme of action and reaffirm their commitments with the launch of "ICPD Beyond 2014". The initiative is putting in place a global survey to assess gaps in the implementation of ICPD at the country level and identify challenges based on the changing needs of society. The survey aims to determine a new actionable set of recommendations for countries and communities to implement based on the vision of the ICPD Programme of Action. These review activities are designed to involve communities, NGOs, young people and governments.

The review will reveal what works best, how to respond to new challenges, and ultimately, will come out with new recommendations to assure each individual a healthy and fulfilling life, with respect for their dignity and equal rights, in a world looking beyond 2014.

In this regard, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organized the first consultation meeting on June 14 at Rashmi's Hotel to start preparing the review of the ICPD Programme of Action at the national level.

The event brought together representatives from line ministries including MPI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Information and Culture, and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport as well as the National Assembly, Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mother and Child Health Committee, Rural Development Committee, Lao Women's Union, Lao Youth Union, Lao National Front for Construction, University of Health Sciences, National University of Laos and the Vientiane Youth Centre for Health and Development.

The meeting also saw the participation of development partners including UN agencies, INGO's as well as representatives from youth groups.

Dr. Esther Muia, UNFPA representative to Lao PDR said "The ICPD Programme of Action has initiated and contributed to major achievements in all areas of population and development in Lao PDR. Its implementation is crucial to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals in 2015 including reducing maternal deaths, improving children and women's health, ensuring gender equality especially in education and employment, and ensuring sustainable development and poverty reduction.

This exercise, said Ms. Saymonekham Mangnormek, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Cooperation from MPI, "it's an excellent opportunity for Lao PDR to review their achievements and constraints over these near twenty years and to chart a course beyond 2015 in order to realize those objectives and actions still to be achieved. The results will contribute to the national preparation of the MDG report and will provide us with a roadmap to guide our implementation and ensure we achieve what we have committed to in the new changing economic and social environment in particular as we are approaching the ASEAN integration in 2015 and the goal of LDC in 2020"

The participants received briefing on the background and critical points of the ICPD, including issues and challenges for its implementation in Lao PDR, were provided with the roadmap developed for the national review and were encouraged to participate actively in the process.

Media Contact: MPI: UN System Division. Department of International Cooperation. Tel: (+856 21) 222214, Mobile: (+856 20) 22237775. Email: 
UNFPA: Diego De La Rosa. / +856-21-315547 ext.116