By Phon Thikeo
March 4, 2011
“Women are now playing an important role alongside their male counterparts thanks to the leadership of the Party,” said the Director of the Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Ms Chandy Pankeo.
She said the Party and government have been supporting gender equality for a long time.
Since Laos won liberation in 1975, women have been developing along with the country.
Since the 1st Party Congress in 1955, the Party has determined directions and issued policies to develop women’s rights.
The Lao constitution guarantees gender equality. Article 29 of the constitution stipulates clearly that the state, society and families must implement policies that support the progress of women and protect their rights.
Article 35 states that Lao citizens are equal before the law irrespective of their gender, social status, education, beliefs or ethnic group. Article 37 states that both genders enjoy equal rights in the political, economic, cultural and social fields and in family matters.
The Party and government see women as important to the development of the country. In 1980 the government approved the formation of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
The Party and government agreed to establish the Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women in 2003 and the National Assembly approved the Law on the Development and Protection of Women in 2004.
The Party and government also linked gender roles into the National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy (NGPES). The strategy is the framework under which all of the government’s future growth and poverty eradication programmes will be developed and implemented.
The NGPES is the result of a process that began in 1996 when the 6th Party Congress defined long-term development objectives to raise Laos from least-developed country status by 2020.
Ms Chandy said over the past five years under the leadership of the Party, the role of Lao women has increased in many fields and the gender gap has decreased in all areas.
Moreover the role of women in decision-making has strengthened over the past five years, from village level up to the National Assembly.
The number of female Party members has increased too. Forty women have been elected to a provincial or the Vientiane Party committee or as a standing member of the Party board.
Seventeen women are secretaries of the Party committee, or standing members of the Party boards of ministries and equivalent organisations.
A total of 268 women are members of district Party committees while 321 women are on village Party committees across the country.
Woman currently occupy 25 percent of the seats in the National Assembly.
Ms Chandy said the Party and government are providing favourable conditions for women to advance themselves so they can walk side by side with their male counterparts and urged women to grasp the opportunities.
Ms Chandy said there are three important standards that individual women need to attain to be truly equal. The first standard is knowledge and education. The second one is ability, and the third is to develop the correct way to interact with men by sharing ideas and gaining influence.
Over the next five years, women will work hard to develop themselves and their country.
Women can do as much to develop Laos as men can.