Photo by: UNDP Lao PDR

What is the project about?

There is a growing global consensus recognizing gender-based violence as a serious violation of basic human rights. In the meantime, the problem is increasingly visible in all sections of society, to which Lao PDR is no exception. According to the 2014 National Survey on Violence Against Women, undertaken with support from UNFPA with the National Commission for the Advancement of Women of Lao PDR, 15.3 percent of ever-partnered women, aged 15-64, have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former male partner. Over one-quarter of ever-partnered women have experienced at least one of the three types of violence (physical, sexual and emotional), with emotional abuse the most predominant, by a male partner in their lifetime.

Among all interviewees, 5.3 percent reported that they had experienced non-partner sexual violence since the age of 15 (either forced intercourse or attempted forced intercourse/unwanted sexual acts). Young women are more vulnerable to gender-based violence and rape. The lifetime prevalence of sexual violence among teenage women aged 15-19 years was 12.9% compared to those in their 50s and 60s (4.6% to 7.8%, respectively). 

Eliminating violence against women (VAW) is a critical part of the development process. The state also has international obligations to implement and coordinate policies, action plans, and programmes to prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence in a systematic way. Considering the afore-mentioned problems, there is a need to review and upgrade the government’s strategic plan in order to provide clear guidelines for all stakeholders to work together towards ending violence against women (EVAW). In addition, the current governance mechanism should be strengthened to better coordinate various interventions on the issue and ensure Lao women’s participation in the discussion and implementation of EVAW-related initiatives.

The LWU developed the national plan of action on the prevention and elimination of VAW to prevent and respond to violence against women (2014-2020). The action plan sets ambitious goals, including the provision of shelters (eight in separate provinces) and the integration of counselling services, particularly in rural health clinics. The 8th NSEDP (2016-2020) also contains a target to implement 70 percent of the national action plan for prevention and elimination of violence against women and children by 2020 ( Gender Equality and Advancement of Women). However, by 2019, according to consultations, the targeted implementation is yet to be achieved due to various challenges, including limited resources and lack of human resources. Moreover, there is a lack of integration into the national development agenda; for instance, GBV indicators are missing from the 8th NSEDP M&E Framework. In 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing gender and social inequalities.

Emerging evidence from the pandemic indicated an increase in GBV. Lockdowns and quarantine measures placed by many countries mean that millions of women are confined with their abusers, with limited options for seeking help and support. The project is very timely to address the above-mentioned issues given that the Government of Lao PDR has started the process to develop the 9th NSEDP and the most relevant sectoral plans - the next GBV strategic plan and the Legal Sector Master Plan. It is also to protect the gains made on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the past years, and to ensure that the recovery measures from COVID-19 is gender-transformative, and is centered on the principle of ‘leave no one behind.’

The EVAW and Gender Equality National Action Plans are developed in line with CEDAW recommendations that the Lao Government has committed to implement, and international guidelines for providing essential services for survivors of violence. It will apply a gender-transformative approach, with work plans and interventions that focus on supporting 8 individuals and institutions to take action to address gender inequality and gender-based violence. It emphasizes effective prevention, responses and coordination as well as reporting of all sectors at national and sub-national levels to ensure women and girl survivors of violence access to social, health, and justice services in a timely manner, including in times of crisis. 

Objectives and Expected Outcomes

Strengthen the governance mechanism and policy framework to mainstream the prevention, elimination and response of Gender-Based Violence against Women in the national development agenda – 9th National Economic Socio-Economic Plan and the Legal Sector Master Plan promoting women’s participation in Lao PDR:

  • Outcome: Strengthened national capacity for the effective, systematic and accountable prevention of and response to VAW in Lao PDR
  • Output: Improved institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of genderbased violence against women and promoting women’s participation

Main interventions

  1. Support the development of the next phase 5 year National Strategic Plans on EVAW and Gender Equality (2021-2025)
  2. Support the development of implementation guideline and M&E plan of the 5 year National Strategic Plan on EVAW (2021-2025)
  3. Establishment of a platform for policy dialogue on Gender & VAW to strengthen governance framework and to promote women’s participation

Description of the linkages

This project responds to Lao PDR’s national policy, KOICA’s Gender Equality strategy and the UN’s SDGs. The 8th National Social and Economic Development Plan 2016-2020 (NSEDP), lays out a clear framework and foundations for the development for the country and sets ‘gender as a cross-cutting’ issue.

The government is committed to considerably reducing discrimination and violence against women by consolidating efforts from various stakeholders, improving legislation, building capacity of duty bearers, and advocacy. At the same time, the KOICA’s Gender Equality Mid-Term Strategy 2016-2020 also indicates its commitment to strive to build a support model for survivors of violence against women and girls.

Similarly, the UN’s SDG 5 focuses on ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls in both the private and public sphere. Adopting and strengthening sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality is also deemed effective and suitable. The proposed project also encourages promoting SDG 16 - peaceful and inclusive societies and building effective and inclusive institutions. All the above strategies and goals are addressed by the project, which improves the institutional and policy framework to accelerate the elimination of violence against women and promoting women’s participation. 

Project Details

  • Duration: 2020-2024
  • Geographic coverage: National level
  • Focus area: Governance / Legal sector
  • Implementing partner: Lao Women’s Union
  • Managed by UNDP Lao PDR, UNFPA Lao PDR, in cooperation with other UN Agencies, including UN Women 
  • Co-Funding: Contribution from KOICA: 2.7 million USD (1.6 million through UNDP, 1.1 million through UNFPA)

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