National workshop mulls progress in women's rights
Members of the Lao Women's Union and UN Women Asia-Pacific as well as Lao and foreign officials met yesterday at the launch of the national workshop on “Transforming Economies and Realising Women's Rights”.
The purpose of the workshop was to report on women's progress worldwide in 2015-2016 and to share knowledge and experiences in planning women's development around the world and to discuss how to help organisations in the development of women in Laos.
Two key speakers addressed the workshop, namely the President of the Lao Women's Union, Dr Inlavan Keobounphanh, and the Regional Director of UN Women Asia-Pacific, Ms Miwa Kato, who discussed gender equality as well as the empowerment of women.
Laos has supported women's increasing role in society, especially in solving issues surrounding poverty and nutrition, as well as promoting gender equality and generally supporting women to apply for leadership positions in all fields including the National Assembly, which is made up of approximately 30 percent of women.
In addition the authorities have encouraged women to run businesses and hold higher positions, backed by the Lao Businesswomen's Association since 2004. This has supported businesswomen in Laos over the years and helped to develop many projects including the annual Lao Food Festival.
The food festival creates opportunities for women entrepreneurs to share what they have learned about ways to improve their products and to supply market demand, as well as generate revenue for their households.
Businesswomen run over 75 percent of their operations on their own and appear to have interacted with their customers better than their businessmen counterparts, according to a survey of businesswomen carried out in 2016 in the production and service sectors.
The 4th Population and Residence Survey conducted in 2015 found that 61 percent of women work only at home as housewives, while only 26 percent of men do the same.
Also, in Laos, it was found that 69 percent of men worked while 66 percent of women were working too although the rate of unemployment of women and men was the same at 1.4 percent.
In urban areas women's unemployment stood at 3.8 percent while the rate for men was 3.6 percent, but the opposite was found in rural areas with the unemployment rate for men being higher than for women.
Sectors that employed more women than men included the service, restaurant, health and sales sectors.
The 4th World Women's Meeting held in Beijing, China, in 1995 was seen to change important aspects of gender equality. Since that meeting many successes have followed including women receiving more education and access to birth control services, changes to laws and rights, and increases in women's employment opportunities.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 2, 2017)