PEACE INDEPENDENCE DEMOCRACY UNITY PROSPERITY
PERMANENT MISSION OF THE LAO PEOPLE'S
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC TO THE
Statement by RE Mrs. Onechanh Thammavong,
Vice President of the Lao National Assembly,
President of the Lao Women's Union, Head of the Lao P.D.R Delegation
at the 23rd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly
on "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty
New York, 7 June 2000 ,
It is indeed my great pleasure and honor to represent the Government of the Lao P.D.R at this 23rd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the twenty first century".
Let me start by congratulating you on your election as President of this important special session. I would like also to express my sincere thanks and high appreciation to the UN Secretariat for the excellent arrangements made for the meeting. This is a great moment, where we could share our experience in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action. In this spirit, I really hope we could learn from each other and see how best we could improve ourselves and make further progress.
Since the Beijing World Conference on Women, the Party and the Government of the Lao P.D.R have attached great importance to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the 12 areas of concern. I would like to take this occasion to present to this Assembly the achievements and obstacles encountered and our future plan for action in order to promote the advancement and development of the Lao Women of all ethnic groups.
The Lao Women's Union, which was established in 1955 under the name of the Lao Patriotic Women's Association, initially acted as a uniting front for all Lao women of all ethnic groups and all social strata in the struggle for the liberation of the country.
After the liberation and the proclamation of the Lao PDR on December 2, 1975, the organization changed its name to the Lao Women's Union and expanded its role and mandate to conform with the Socio-Economic development of the new era.
The Lao Women's Union is the national mechanism for the promotion of equal rights and the advancement of women. The Union has responsibility for overseeing directly or indirectly the implementation of all Government's policies and programs related to women's development and gender issues.
After five years of implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the results can be summarised as follows:
In the field of poverty eradication, the women have developed their knowledge and abilities in planning, management, capital control and wide access to financial institution. They are brave to get credit and arrange credit groups in the bank, solve the problems in many different spheres, their lives become better and more successful.
The healthcare sector has been improved, the maternal and child mortality rate has decreased and the quality of life of mothers and children has gradually been enhanced. The Lao Women's Union and the Anti-AIDS National Committee have conducted training courses and disseminated knowledge of preventing HIV/AIDS.
In May 1999, the Government of the Lao PDR adopted the Population Development Policy, which emphasises the importance and the needs of promoting the role and status of Lao women in the development process.
Lao women have become aware of their rights and obligations and now can protect their rights and interests better than before. Female victims are protected by laws; gender issues have been gradually recognised by the society; there is an increase number of women in the judiciary body (prosecutor's office, court, judge, police),
Due to the fact that the Lao Government and the people were victimised by the war in the past, which continues to affect the life of the Lao people, especially women and children, until now, the Lao Government considers the creation of a peaceful environment as crucial for national social and economic development that would bring prosperity to the Lao people of all ethnic group.
The Government of the Lao PDR provides assistance to the victims of war and unexploded ordnance. Today the country has political stability, the people enjoy convenience and opportunity to progress themselves socially and economically.
Lao women of all ethnic groups both in Urban and rural area have developed and
upgrade their knowledge of protecting the rights of women and children, gender issues, as well as the application of new techniques in their production, nutrition, health, education and increase of family income in order to improve their quality of life. Therefore, the number of women entrepreneurs has been increased in the business of national and international trade.
On the issue of violence against women, the Lao PDR has undertaken various
activities in order to eliminate it such as:
In the aspects of leadership at all levels, the number of female leaders has
increased for instance, in the National Assembly, the percentage of female parliamentarian rose from 9.4% in 1992 to 21.2% today, of which one woman is elected Vice-President of the National Assembly, two are members of the Standing Committee and one is the president of the National Assembly Commission for ethnic affairs. In the Government cabinet, two women are appointed vice-ministers. Apart from this, there is one governor of province and two chiefs of districts. This is a demonstration of the growing participation of women in political affairs.
The implementation of the said activities has brought us multifaceted success,
however, the advancement and development of women are abstracted by some obstacles such as:
In line with the Renovation Policy, as well as the Beijing Platform for Action, the Government of the Lao PDR is committed itself to systematic advancement and development of the Lao Women of all ethnic groups. In this regard, the Lao Government has approved a Lao women development plan, which comprises 4 major programs namely:
The Lao Women's Union has a major strategic responsibility in achieving the long term human resource development goals of the Lao PDR and in enhancing the participation of the Lao women in all levels of societal development, in particular, the participation of the grassroots women
The implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action is the main responsibility to be born by national governments. However, in this undertaking, the developing countries, especially, the Least Developed ones would not be in a position to fulfil this responsibility on their own. The international community has the duty to grant cooperation and assistance to them in their efforts to achieve the objectives set forth in the Platform.
In conclusion, once again, May I thank you, Mr. President, for giving me an opportunity to speak and share our experience in this meeting and let me wish this special session a successful completion.