(KPL) Experts, government officials and development partners met in Vientiane this week to discuss how to adapt and use the manual Essential Service Package as a tool to provide essential services for women and girls who are victims of violence.
Lao Women’s Union hosted the first ever multi-stakeholder consultation on the Essential Service Package from Jul 8-9, 2019.
The meeting also aimed to strengthen the coordination and referral pathways amongst service providers to better prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
There has been a significant progress in the Lao PDR on national policies and laws development to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.
Marital rape and sexual violence by partners and individuals are criminalized by law. Any direct and indirect forms of violence are also prohibited by law. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is included in the 8th National Social-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and the Noi framework exists to empower and protect the rights of girls.
Despites the good laws and policies, research shows 58% of women and 49 % of men reported that gender-based violence was justified if women did not stick to traditional gender norms, roles and relations.
Another study reveals one-third of women reported having experienced physical, emotional and sexual violence.
Nearly half of those women reported never seek help due to discriminatory gender stereotypes coupled with ineffective referral pathways.
It is important to anticipate and prevent violence within communities and this is especially important during disasters, when existing issues are amplified. Strong coordination among partners in necessary in order to prioritize GBV and response, said Ms Bandith Pathoumvanh, Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union.
The Lao PDR has many good laws and policies to protect and uphold the rights of women and girls so they can live lives free from violence. Making services available as per the laws and policies is the priority now. This responds to the CEDAW recommendations for Laos, said Ms Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative to the Lao PDR.
In 2018, Lao Women’s Union launched Women Friendly Spaces in two camps in Sanamxay, Attapeu Province supported by UNFPA. UNFPA also supported to strengthen the referral pathways among multi-sector in the camps to prevent and respond to GBV in the emergency setting.
Gaining momentum through this great collaboration, both partners aim to implement the Essential Service Package (ESP) in the Lao PDR 2020-2023.
The Essential Services Package is the United Nations Joint Global Programme, a guidance tool identifying the essential services to be provided to all women and girls subject to gender-based violence, including services to be provided by the health social, police, and justice sectors.
Participants also discussed how to adapt EPS in the Lao context to better prevent and respond to gender-based violence, and how to integrate into each sector’s plan that can be built on the existing pilots and other interventions on GVB by the government and partners.
Source: Lao News Agency