President of the Lao National Assembly Ms Pany Yathortou addressed the World Assembly for Women (WAW) held in Tokyo, Japan, from August 28-29, highlighting the issues and challenges facing the advancement of women internationally.
Ms Pany also spoke at the High-level Roundtable Session on Saturday after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a speech to open the forum on Friday.
To address these challenges, Laos has actively implemented the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and has streamlined it into national policies, the Constitution, the relevant laws and legislation as well as national socio-economic development plans, with the aim of protecting and promoting women's rights.
In addition, Laos has created a number of mechanisms from the central to local levels to protect and promote the rights of women.
These mechanisms include the Lao Women's Union, National Commission for the Advancement of Women, and the Women Parliamentarians' Caucus.
Supported by the government and all stakeholders, Laos has been able to make satisfactory progress in promoting the role and participation of women in all areas.
In the political arena, the number of women in leadership and management roles has increased significantly, while women's role in the economic arena has also steadily expanded.
This has enabled women to generate more income for themselves and their families and gain more sources of funding. In the field of socio-cultural development, women have an important role in preserving Lao culture and traditions.
Most women have access to health services and have the same educational opportunities as men. All this has contributed to the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals as set out by the United Nations.
“As the President of the Lao National Assembly, I have strongly pushed for the increased representation of female parliamentarians, while also advocating for the adoption of legislation that aims to protect and promote women's rights, and an increase in the budget for education, health and rural development, and poverty reduction, all of which are very much related to women,” Ms Pany said.
But while some progress has been made, Lao women are still facing challenges in exercising their rights. Laos will continue to implement existing key initiatives and activities to ensure their fuller participation in and access to all areas of public life.
These activities aim to strengthen the capacity of relevant organisations for the protection and promotion of the rights of women and children, and the advancement of women and gender equality.
“Enhancing women's role, mutual cooperation and assistance is of great importance. I therefore call on developed countries to assist developing countries with the aim of narrowing the development gap,” Ms Pany added.

Originally published on Vientiane Times on Sep. 2nd, 2015.

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