Enhancing Communication and Strengthening Protection for Women from violence in Lao PDR

Over 30% of ever-partnered women in the Lao PDR have experienced at least one of the three types of violence, including physical, sexual and psychological. However, less than 2 per cent of women will report violence to the authorities.
To encourage and facilitate access to justice for survivors of violence, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Lao Women’s Union (LWU) co-hosted a workshop in Vang Vieng in mid-July to develop a strategy for communication and community outreach, following the models of Communication for Development (C4D) and communication for social and behaviour change communication (CSBC).
Attended by 27 officials from 12 departments of the LWU, this workshop was the culmination of audience research conducted in Bokeo, Savannakhet, Champassak, and Khammuan Provinces in 2021 and 2022, including women and men from rural communities on their experiences and perceptions on violence against women.
Ms. Soukphaphone Phanith, Director General of Planning and International Cooperation Department, highlighted from the outset that “effective communication and community outreach is critical to not only raise awareness among people and communities on women’s rights to be protected from violence, but also to create a society that will encourage women to seek justice and end violence against women once and for all. The strategy that will guide the Lao Women’s Union on this work is essential to both protect women and advance community development.”
Participants were familiarized with the Steps of Change, a behaviour change model developed by Dr. Barbara A. K. Franklin, international expert working under the Khan Hom Project, to analyse the results from the audience research. During the workshop, the participants presented about how they could adapt the model to Lao women’s society. Ms. Vongakone Phengdalith, Deputy Director General of Organization and Personnel Department, LWU, shared that “using the Steps of Change, we could see that the first barrier is at the level of awareness and knowledge: survivors do not know with whom to talk about this problem, nor where to reach out”. Ms. Phengdalith added: “Secondly, at the attitude step, they are embarrassed to tell others and afraid of the consequences, coming from a culture that teaches women to be under men’s control. Through effective communication and outreach, we can help women to know how to seek help and create a society that does not shame women who experience violence.”
Participants then used the analysis as the basis to go through the process of planning a communication strategy. Working in teams, LWU officials collectively agreed on the communication objective and then the communication channels, key messages, and materials to achieve the objective. On the final day, participants reviewed the communications strategy for endorsement and discussed actions required for implementation of the strategy, including on engaging with media and using other forms of digital media more effectively.
At the end of the workshop, the LWU teams had a deeper understanding of the importance of communications and outreach in protecting women from violence, and began the early steps in integrating these new approaches into their everyday work. The journey doesn’t end here as UNDP and LWU will continue to develop the strategy and providing further capacity development support to the LWU teams in implementing the strategy and working better across the different teams: “The next steps will be to plan for implementation, including developing materials for the two approaches to communication: informational advocacy campaigns and community outreach,” said Ms. Sarah Tae, Gender Programme Specialist and Project Manager of the Khan Hom Project for UNDP, “UNDP, with the support from KOICA, is committed to continue providing support to the LWU throughout this process, concretely through a training to trainers to transmit the required skills and techniques nationwide.”
Through the Khan Hom Project supported by KOICA, UNDP aims to ensure access to justice for survivors of violence by strengthening capacity of the justice sector to provide consistent and quality services to prevent and respond to violence against women and the LWU to empower women and survivors of violence to speak out against violence.

Source: Lao News Agency

Progress for Lao women and girls’ rights reflected in the 10th CEDAW Report

The Lao PDR is drafting the 10th National Report as part the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in the Lao PDR.
Laos has receives the support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and its technical committee members from line ministries, including MoJ, MoFA, MoLSW, MoES, MoPS, MoH, MoAF, MoICT, MoHA, MPI(LSB), Bank of Laos, People’s Supreme Court, People’s Supreme Prosecution, LWU, National Lao Front, to draft the 10th National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in the Lao PDR (10th CEDAW periodic report).
Consultations with government departments, civil society organizations and development partners are being held over the course of the year. The 10th CEDAW draft report will summarise the impacts and progress on women’s rights as well as the implementation of government legislation, plans and programmes that promote women’s rights and gender equality.
The draft report tracks progress of the Lao PDR to afford rights to women and girls, address discriminatory stereotypes and gender roles, combat gender-based violence and human trafficking, and promote women’s participation in political and public life, education, healthcare, employment, social and economic benifits, and family life of women and girls.
At the first technical drafting meeting Ms Mariam Khan, UNFPA Representative to the Lao PDR recognised the Government of Lao’s leadership to promote women’s rights as well as progress made in the years since the combined 8th and 9th report in 2018, despite the challenging COVID-19 context: “Huge strides in systems strengthening for GBV prevention and response have been made.
The National Plan of Action focuses on three core areas to address violence against women: prevention, response, and multisectoral coordination. UNFPA is also supporting NCAWMC and LWU to improve multisectoral response to GBV and establish GBV referral pathways to improve services”. “Since Lao PDR ratified CEDAW in 1981, the Lao government has been committed to the implementation of the convention by translating it into the Lao constitution, laws, policies and socio-economic development plans, as well as establishing national mechanisms such as: the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children to monitor and report on the implementation of the convention, to ensure the promotion of gender equality, prevent all forms of discrimination against women and empower women in Lao PDR,” said Ms Chansoda Phonethip, Vice President of LWU and NCAWMC. The drafting process is also an occasion to engage all actors involved in promoting women’s rights by identifying what has progressed and what still needs collective efforts, financing, education, coordination, services etc. The draft report will be submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review and the Lao Government for endorsement, before being submitted to the United Nations.

Source: Lao News Agency

Dengue cases increase more than 10,000 nationwide

Laos recorded 10,469 cases of dengue fever throughout the country and 12 deaths, according to the Centre of Information and education for Health, the Ministry of Health on July 21.
The 12 deaths included five in Vientiane, three in Attapeu, two in Saravan, and two more in Oudomxay and Xieng Khuang province.
Dengue is another disease that must be closely monitored, because there is a tendency to increase and spread widely throughout the country.
The highest number of dengue patients were reported in Vientiane at 5,429, with 869 cases in Saravan, 858 cases in Luang Namtha, 799 cases in Sekong, 710 cases in Attapeu province.
The spread of the disease also resulted in deaths and an increase in the number of patients, which is the only way to prevent this disease, everyone should prevent mosquitoes and implement the five principles set out by the Ministry of Health on a regular basis, especially destroying the source of mosquito breeding grounds. Without mosquitoes, there will be no mosquitoes.

Source: Lao News Agency

Laos marks the World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Laos organized a walking event last Saturday in Vientiane to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work (April 28, 2003-April 28, 2022).
Addressing at the opening ceremony, Director of Labour Management Department, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Phongsavanh Xaykosy said April 28 of each year and as this year 2022 is a very meaningful and important day for workers around the world to remember the victims of labor accidents and occupational diseases at work, as well as to promote and raise awareness for all economic and social sectors in the prevention of labor accidents and occupational diseases aimed at reducing injuries and deaths from work or may become disabled, dismembered, have various diseases or may be life-threatening problems.
‘’Therefore, the International Labour Organization agreed to declare April 28 of each year as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This year relevant sectors organized in cooperation with ILO the event under the slogan of “Act together to build a positive safety and health culture,’’ Phongsavanh added.
Attended the event were Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Baykham Khatthiya, Deputy Director of the Lao Central Union’s Executive Committee Vilay Vongkhaseuam, Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Xaybandith Ratxaphon and a country coordinator of the International Labour Organization to the Lao PDR, Viengprasith Thipphasouda and officials from both sides.

Source: Lao News Agency

Zimbabwe Introduces Gold Coins in Hopes of Reducing Demand for US Dollars

Zimbabwe’s central bank has introduced gold coins that it hopes will ease citizens’ demands for foreign currency. But economists and ordinary Zimbabweans are skeptical.
At the official launch of the gold coins in Harare on Monday, John Mangudya, head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said the coins are designed to reduce demand for U.S. dollars in the country.

Zimbabweans are largely shunning the weak local dollar in favor of U.S. greenbacks, which Zimbabweans see as more acceptable abroad and better at holding their value long term.

Mangudya said he hoped that Zimbabweans will now opt for the gold coins, which cost about $1,800 each.

“We are now providing that store of value to ensure that people do not run to the parallel market in search for foreign currency to store value,” he said. “And there is no other better product that can be used to store value other than gold.”
Mangudya said the coin is a sign of respect for the people of Zimbabwe.
“We know what you have been going through in terms of the fear factor of losing value and therefore we are providing this gold coin,” he said. It’s a genuine gold coin to ensure that it is saved and invested there.”

Mangudya said 2,000 coins will be manufactured, with future production depending on the public’s appetite.
Prosper Chitambara, a senior researcher and economist at the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, said despite the bank’s hopes he doubts the coins will drastically reduce demand for American dollars.

“Even the demand for U.S. dollar as a store of value, it will also rise because there are still a lot of uncertainties relating to the convertibility of these gold coins — are [they] internationally tradeable, especially given the trust and confidence issues?” Chitambara said.
Chitambra also expressed caution about the coin.
“Most people may not have money to buy this since most citizens are literally living from hand to mouth,” Chitambara said.

One of those Zimbabweans struggling to get by is Christine Kayumba, a high school teacher in Harare.

“The issue of gold coins to us teachers in Zimbabwe, is something we can dream of,” Kayumba said. “It means a teacher who is getting a salary of $190 to $200 would need nine to 10 months to buy one gold coin.”
For Kayumba, that $200 of salary pays for transport, food, rent and money to send children to school. It’s money to live, she said, not to buy a gold coin.
“So, I believe the gold coins were meant for the rich people, not the ordinary teacher or any civil servant in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Mangudya told reporters Monday that gold coins of lesser value would be minted in future to cater for people who have fewer resources.

Source: Voice of America

Diana Kennedy, Food Writer Devoted to Mexico, Dies at 99

Diana Kennedy, a tart-tongued British food writer devoted to Mexican cuisine, died Sunday. She was 99.
Kennedy spent much of her life learning and preserving the traditional cooking and ingredients of her adopted home, a mission that even in her 80s had her driving hundreds of miles across her Mexico in a rattling truck as she searched remote villages for elusive recipes.
Her nearly dozen cookbooks, including Oaxaca al Gusto, which won the 2011 James Beard Award for cookbook of the year, reflect a lifetime of groundbreaking culinary contributions and her effort to collect vanishing culinary traditions, a mission that began long before the rest of the culinary world was giving Mexican cooking the respect that she felt it was due.
Her long-time friend Concepción Guadalupe Garza Rodríguez said that Kennedy died peacefully shortly before dawn Sunday at her home in Zitacuaro, about 160 kilometers west of Mexico City.
“Mexico is very grateful for her,” Garza Rodríguez said. Kennedy had had lunch at a local hotel on March 3 for her birthday, but during the past five weeks had mostly stayed in her room. Garza Rodríguez visited Kennedy last week and said she cried when they parted.
Mexico’s Culture Ministry said via Twitter Sunday that Kennedy’s “life was dedicated to discovering, compiling and preserving the richness of Mexican cuisine.”
“Diana understood, as few do, that the conservation of nature is key to continue obtaining the ingredients that make it possible to keep creating the delicious dishes that characterize our cuisine,” the ministry said.
Her first cookbook, “The Cuisines of Mexico,” was written during long hours with home cooks across Mexico. It established Kennedy as the foremost authority on traditional Mexican cooking and remains the seminal work on the subject even four decades later. She described it as a gastronomy that humbled her, and she credited those — usually women — who shared their recipes with her.
“Cooking teaches you that you’re not always in control,” she had said. “Cooking is life’s biggest comeuppance. Ingredients can fool you.”
She received the equivalent of knighthood in Mexico with the Congressional Order of the Aztec Eagle award for documenting and preserving regional Mexican cuisines. The United Kingdom also has honored her, awarding her a Member of the British Empire award for furthering cultural relations with Mexico.
‘Good food, whole food’
Kennedy was born with an instinctive curiosity and love of food. She grew up in the United Kingdom eating what she called “good food, whole food,” if not a lot of food. During World War II, she was assigned to the Women Timber Corps, where food was simple and sometimes sparse — homemade bread, fresh cream, scones and berries on good days, nettle soup or buttered green beans when rations were lean.
These meals awakened in Kennedy an appreciation of flavor and texture that would last a lifetime.
She met her husband, Paul Kennedy, a New York Times correspondent in Haiti. He was on assignment in Haiti, she was traveling there. They fell in love and in 1957 she joined him in Mexico, where he was assigned.
‘New, exciting, and exotic’
A series of Mexican maids, as well as aunts, mothers and grandmothers of her new friends, gave Diana Kennedy her first Mexican cooking lessons — grinding corn for tamales, cooking rabbit in adobo. While her husband wrote about insurrections and revolutions, Kennedy explored a land that was, for her, “new, exciting and exotic,” sampling unique fruits, vegetables and herbs of various regions.
The couple moved to New York in 1966 when Paul Kennedy was dying of cancer.
Two years later, at the urging of New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne, she taught her first Mexican cooking class, hunting out ingredients in the Northeast to reproduce the bursting flavors of Mexico. Soon she was spending more of her time back in Mexico, establishing a retreat there that still serves as her home in the country.
She was known for her sharp-tongued commentary, even as her pioneering work helped turn Mexico into a culinary mecca for foodies and the world’s top chefs, and transformed a cuisine long dismissed as tortillas suffocated in heavy sauces, cheeses and sour cream.
She once told Jose Andres, James Beard Award winning chef and proprietor of an acclaimed Mexican restaurant, that his tamales were “bloody awful.”
She worried that famous chefs, who flocked to Mexico in recent years to study and experiment with the purity of the flora, fauna and flavors, were mixing the wrong ingredients.
“Many of them are using it as a novelty and do not know the things that go together,” she said. “If you are going to play around with ingredients, exotic ingredients, you’ve got to know how to treat them.”
Kennedy was fiercely private and guarded about who she let into her sustainable Mexican retreat near the city of Zitacuaro in the conflicted western state of Michoacan. No one was welcome unannounced. Cell phones were turned off and computers were kept in a writing studio. Her companions were her paid staff, who treated her like a dear friend, and several beloved — if somewhat fierce — dogs.
In 2019, the documentary “Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy,” showed a still feisty Kennedy relishing in the production of her garden and driving the bumpy roads of Zitacuaro.
In her later years, Kennedy had said she wanted to slow down, but couldn’t.
“There are so many more recipes out there, handed down mother to daughter that are going to be lost. There are seeds and herbs and roots that could disappear. There is absolutely so much more that needs to be done!” she said

Source: Voice of America