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Govt seeks to boost role of women in country’s leadership

The government has continued to pursue a policy to encourage more women to play a role in the country’s leadership, vowing to increase the number of women in leading positions in state departments.
Laos has set a target to increase the proportion of women holding leadership positions in central-level state organisations to 30 percent by 2020, according to statistics provided last week by the Lao Women’s Union.
The figure was cited as the union is holding activities to mark International Women’s Day – a time when the world reviews the status of women and their empowerment.
The Lao government will also strive to increase the proportion of women holding leadership positions in provincial and district departments to 20 percent by 2020.
Overall, women now fill more than 30 percent of leadership positions, from head of unit to deputy minister levels, according to the Civil Servant Management Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“This figure excludes ministers, ministerial-equivalent level and higher positions. Leading positions in the Ministries of Public Security and National Defence are also not included,” the department’s Director General Mr Souvanny Lattanavong told Vientiane Times on Monday.
“If higher-level positions and those in the two ministries are included, the percentage would be higher,” he added. 
Mr Souvanny said a comparison has not been made with other countries in the region in terms of the role of women in politics, saying it was hard to compare because some countries include leading positions in the Ministries of Public Security and National Defence in their statistics.
However, the number of women holding high-level and top positions in state and Party organisations remains low.
In the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party’s 11-member Politburo - the country’s top political body - Mrs Pany Yathotou is the only female member.
Meanwhile, the 69-member Party Central Committee has just six female members.
Among 68 ministers and equivalent positions, only five are women, according to statistics as of June 2017 provided by the Civil Servant Management Department.
In addition, there were only 24 women among the 190 deputy ministers and equivalent positions.
Although female members of the National Assembly now make up 27.5 percent of the 149-member parliament, this falls short of the target of 30 percent.
In addition to promoting women’s leadership role in state bodies, a number of female entrepreneurs now head up business units.
One global study suggests that countries stand to gain by promoting gender equality.
A study by the McKinsey Global Institute in 2015 showed that the world would gain US$28 trillion by 2025 with the elimination of the disparities borne by women in the workforce.  This value is greater than that of the combined economies of the United States and China in 2016, according to the study published on the website of the Asean Secretariat.
Observers noted that in order to successfully promote gender equality, it was essential to create equal opportunities for girls to access education, to the same extent as boys.
The Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women and Mother-Child said it has made progress in increasing the number of girls enrolled in schools.
School attendance by girls at the upper secondary level rose from 45 percent in 2015 to 47 percent in 2016 and to 51 percent in 2017.
School attendance by girls in lower secondary schools also increased, from 78 percent in 2015 to 82 percent in 2016 and 2017.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update
March 7,

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