- General

16 Days Campaign unites partners on ending gender-based violence in Laos

(KPL) A multi-partner social media campaign on Dec 10 marked the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in the Lao PDR, an annual international campaign on gender-based violence running from the international day for elimination of violence against women to the Human Rights Day.

At the recently concluded Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the national government of the Lao PDR has pledged strong commitments on accelerating unfinished businesses on ICPD forward, which included specific targets on promoting gender equality, namely, to end gender-based violence (GBV) and harmful practices such as early marriage by 2030, and to finalize and implement policies and laws on gender.

Under the coordination of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, over 20 partners joined hands together to promote public awareness on violence against women, including UN agencies, international NGOs, donor governments, private sector, media and civil society organizations.

This year’s 16 Days Campaign rallied new and existing partners to join a social media relay passing on messages highlighting localized actions to address gender-based violence in the Lao PDR. The UN country team in the Lao PDR (the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, UNDP, UNV, ILO, UNAIDS, WFP), the donor community (EU, USAID, the Canadian Embassy, the British Embassy, the Australian Embassy, the French Embassy), international and national NGOs (the Asia Foundation, Care International, Winrock), and private sector partner BFL (Banque Franco Lao) participated in the campaign. The concerted efforts of the partners have reached out to over 500,000 people in Laos on social media.

The first national survey on GBV, released in 2016, revealed that one in three Lao women in a relationship had experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence at the hands of their partner. Yet, the survey showed that more than 70 per cent of survivors never seek help from anyone, while 19 per cent sought help from a community leader. Only 4 per cent went to the police and only 3 per cent sought assistance from health services.

In the Lao context, as elsewhere, traditional social norms are the underlying causes for gender discriminatory practices, including violence-against women and girls. Care International promoted Brave to Change, a new soap opera collaborated with the Lao Women’s Union focusing on healthy relationships and gender equality. The series showed that positive norm changes can take place in daily life, such as household workload sharing, joint household decision making, women’s voice and participation in public decision-making.

Source: Lao News Agency