A gender-responsive and hygiene improvement project launched

With financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Plan International Japan through Plan International Laos, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) agreed to launch the new project to support schoolgirls and boys in primary and secondary schools.

Represented by Director General of Oudomxay Provincial Education and Sports Service (PESS), Mr. Somsack Souphilay, and Country Director of Plan International Laos, Ms Carol Mortensen, signed the Memorandum of Understanding concerning the project of the Gender-Responsive and Hygiene Improvement Project in La, and Namo Districts, Oudomxay Province.

This project aims to improve female-friendly water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and sanitary and hygiene practices at 30 schools (24 primary and six lower secondary schools) in La and Namo Districts. It seeks to create a comfortable and safe school sanitation environment for all children, including menstruating girls, through improved access to water and sanitation facilities, including gender-segregated toilets.

“This project is essential because it will help improve children’s health and well-being in Oudomxay. It will also help to break down gender stereotypes and ensure that all children have equal access to a safe and hygienic learning environment,” Ms. Carol Mortensen addressed.

“The importance of menstrual hygiene management for girls because menstruation is a natural bodily function, but it can be difficult for girls to manage if they do not have access to proper facilities and education. This project will ensure that girls in target schools have the resources to manage their periods safely and healthily,” said Ms. Carol Mortensen. She added, “We will ensure that all children and adolescents, regardless of gender, have access to a safe and hygienic learning environment. The main deliveries of the project include providing separate toilets for boys and girls, promoting gender-sensitive health education, and encouraging girls to take a leadership role in awareness-raising activities with students.

“The target areas are known as one of the poorest areas in Laos and poor access to water is a serious issue in both districts. This situation is also true in schools, where many children are facing infectious diseases and other threats to their health. In addition, it should not be overlooked that girls are particularly affected by this situation,” said Japan Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mr. Kobayashi Kenichi.

“We hope efforts made under this project contribute to improving the sanitation environment in primary and lower secondary schools in the target areas and that children will be able to achieve their learning outcomes in a gender-sensitive environment,” he added.

Plan International and its partners will implement the project to ensure that all children have access to safe and hygienic toilets is set within 3 years.

During its lifespan, the project staff will work with primary and lower secondary schoolchildren, teachers, principals and education staff to ensure separate toilet construction and rehabilitation and sanitation facilities for girls, boys and children with disabilities are completed and ready to be utilized; and to promote health practices at school, such as handwashing and menstrual hygiene management through 3-star WASH in School and Comprehensive Sexual Education. In addition, the project will promote sanitary and hygiene practices in the community along with the project’s lifespan accordingly.

This project contributes to the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan which identifies education as a critical priority to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and escape from the status of least developed countries in 2024.

It will make a real difference in the lives of children and adolescents, mainly girls in Oudomxay Province, to reach their full potential. We will not stop until ‘Girls Get Equal.”

Plan International Laos commenced working in Oudomxay in 2014 with Education and Public Health Programmes. Strong partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports, Provincial Education and Sports Service, and District Education and Sports Bureaus, we deliver quality education access for children and adolescents in Oudomxay Province.

Source: Lao News Agency