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UNFPA lends support to women and girls during Covid-19 outbreak

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently handed over contributions consisting of hygiene and dignity items as well as essential food supplies for use by women and girls during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The donated items were presented to the Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union, Mrs Bandith Prathoumvanh, by UNFPA Representative to Laos, Ms Mariam A Khan, on June 2, in the presence of ministry officials and other invited guests.
The supplies were provided under UNFPA’s partnership with the private sector with the support of Banque Franco-Lao (BFL) and the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The items bolster Laos’ response to the virus outbreak with a particular focus on the special needs of women and girls.
While Laos has managed to contain the outbreak, the government wishes to ensure that women and girls receive the necessary services and support during the coronavirus response and mitigation period, Mrs Bandith said.
The effect of the outbreak of people’s health, wellbeing, security, social protection, the environment and economy was profound, she added, with women and girls amongst those most heavily impacted.
UNFPA has been working actively in support of government partners as well as expanding alliances and partnerships with the private sector to collaborate for improvements in women’s reproductive health and in particular for the prevention of violence against women and girls. 
The partnerships focus on common sustainable development values and support to the Noi framework, which highlights the need to protect women and girls from violence and harmful practices such as child marriage, while ensuring basic rights such as adequate nutrition and education are met.
But the gains achieved in recent years are at risk of being rolled back when it comes to maternal health, sexual and reproductive health rights for adolescents, and combating gender-based violence. Heightened vulnerabilities and limited access to specific health and counselling services are being observed, Mrs Bandith said. 
Preliminary data from the Protection Centre for Women and Children run by the Lao Women’s Union indicates that, compared to 2019, there is an increase in domestic violence and child sexual abuse, a decrease in access to balanced nutrition, and an increase in the burden of care and unpaid household work for women and girls.
Also speaking at the handover of supplies, Ms Khan said partnership with the private sector is essential for the accelerated delivery of common goals and for the protection of the rights of women and girls.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update June 5, 2020)

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