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Capacity needs assessment launched

In the Lao PDR, more than a third of women experience violence in their lifetime but less than two percent of women report it to authorities.

The Second Five-Year National Action Plan Prevention and Elimination of Violence Against Women (NAPEVAW) set a target to increase reporting of violence to 20 per cent by 2025, and the justice sector plays a crucial role to making sure this can be achieved.

On Mar 10, in Vientiane, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the Lao Women’s Union (LWU), the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers, and Children (NCAWMC), and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) officially launched the report of the capacity needs assessment of the justice sector to prevent and respond to violence against women.

The capacity needs assessment determined the current situation of the justice sector (Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Security, Office of the Supreme People’s Prosecutor, and the People’s Supreme Court) to deliver on their responsibilities under the NAPEVAW including the provision of legal aid and mediation by trained legal practitioners, law enforcement and prevention through the police, and the prosecution perpetrators of violence against women together with the adjudication of cases.

“This assessment was an important first step to understand the situation of the justice sector and what needs to be done to make sure the targets set out in the NAPEVAW are achieved,” said Vice President of LWU and Vice Chairperson of NCAWMC Ms. Chansoda Phonethip, “and this report provides a clear roadmap for achieving this goal”.

The NAPEVAW requires partnerships across sectors to work together to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, promote gender equality and end violence against women once and for all, and the results of the assessment highlighted the need to deepen partnerships both within and outside the justice sector. The launch brought together officials from the justice sector, LWU, and NCAWMC, representatives from civil society, international organizations, and donor agencies, to establish a common understanding about the current circumstances and next steps.

“While the capacity needs assessment revealed that the justice sector is underprepared to deliver on the NAPEVAW, this is also a rare opportunity to begin laying the groundwork, together, to build a sturdy and robust system,” said Ms. Catherine Phuong, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Lao PDR. “In order to do so, we count on partnerships with the whole community to ensure that our collective action to eliminate violence against women can be done together under one khan hom, or umbrella”.

Deputy Country Director of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Mr. Sangjun Kim, reaffirmed KOICA’s commitment to eliminating violence against women in the Lao PDR, “Through the Khan Hom Project, KOICA is committed to continue supporting all sectors providing essential services in the Lao PDR to ensure that women receive quality services.

The justice sector is especially important to ensuring that key human rights safeguards are in place and the rule of law is upheld.”

The capacity needs assessment helped to identify key areas for investment in the justice sector to ensure implementation of the NAPEVAW, including gender training for police, lawyers, and judges, gender-responsive budgeting, and the adoption of digital tools for the collection and sharing of information across agencies.

The Khan Hom Project, supported by KOICA, is implemented in partnership by the LWU, NCAWMC, UNFPA, and UNDP, to reduce discrimination and eliminate violence against women.

Source: Lao News Agency