Lao PDR Lawmakers Meet to Further ICPD25 Programme of Action

Conferences, Development & Aid, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Headlines, Population, Sustainable Development Goals


Delegates at the workshop on Harnessing Demographic Dividend through the Roadmap to 2030 for Lao PDR. Credit: APDA

Delegates at the workshop on Harnessing Demographic Dividend through the Roadmap to 2030 for Lao PDR. Credit: APDA

VIENTIANE, Apr 29 2024 (IPS) – A recent workshop of lawmakers heard that targeted interventions would be necessary to meet the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), its Programme of Action (PoA), and Lao PDR’s national commitments to ICPD25 at the Nairobi Summit 2019.

The Workshop on Harnessing Demographic Dividend through the Roadmap to 2030 for Lao PDR aimed to equip parliamentarians with the knowledge and strategies necessary to address the critical population and development challenges confronting Lao PDR.

Thoummaly Vongphachanh, MP and Chair of Social and Cultural Affairs Committees, National Assembly, told the workshop in her opening address that collective action was important for tackling population and development challenges.

Edcel Lagman, MP Philippines and acting Chair of AFPPD, addressed the ICPD’s emphasis on individual rights, gender equality, and the correlation between development and women’s empowerment. With this in mind, he urged parliamentarians to enact rights-based policies that promote gender equality and social justice, incorporating population dynamics into development planning.

UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR, Dr Bakhtiyor Kadyrov, reiterated the organization’s commitment to supporting parliamentarians and government initiatives in addressing population and development challenges, emphasizing the importance of inclusive policies and partnerships to ensure no one is left behind.

A representative of DoP/MPI, Kaluna Nanthavongduangsy, provided an overall overview of the ICPD and its POA, along with Lao PDR’s national commitments to ICPD25, at the Nairobi Summit 2019. He said its commitment was based on five pillars.

  • Managing and using demographic benefits and investing in youth.
  • Addressing climate change and its impact on the public sector and social protection.
  • Promoting health and well-being, including rights to sexual and reproductive health.
  • Enhancing the availability and use of demographic information.
  • Strengthening partnerships and mobilizing resources.

Latdavanh Songvilay, Director General of the Macroeconomic Research Institute, Lao Academy of Social and Economic Sciences, outlined various challenges hindering the realization of the demographic dividend in Lao PDR. These challenges may include barriers to education and employment, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, and socio-cultural factors impacting women’s empowerment and reproductive health.

Her presentation offered valuable insights into the complex interplay between demographic changes, socio-economic development, and policy formulation in Lao PDR. By identifying opportunities and addressing challenges, her analysis was crucial for the parliamentarians to make informed decisions and identify targeted interventions that could maximize the benefits of the demographic transition.

The Lao’s Family Welfare Promotion Association’s Executive Director, Dr Souphon Sayavong, emphasized the importance of comprehensive approaches that combine legal frameworks, law enforcement, survivor support services, and community engagement to combat SGBV effectively.

He also noted that harmful practices, such as child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence, needed targeted interventions to raise awareness, provide support to survivors, and change social norms that perpetuate harmful practices.

Sayavong also said that there were socio-economic consequences of gender inequality and SGBV, emphasizing their detrimental effects on individual well-being, community development, and national progress.

Dr Mayfong Mayxay, Member of Parliament and Vice-Rector of the University of Health Sciences, Ministry of Health, Lao PDR, said it was crucial to identify and tackle the various problems encountered by young people, including drug addiction, school dropout, early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, and inadequate nutrition during pregnancy.

He said additional issues like substance abuse, smoking, and alcohol consumption needed targeted interventions, including prevention programmes and awareness campaigns. School dropout issues were often socioeconomic, so it was important to find strategies including scholarships, vocational training opportunities, and community-based support systems to ensure that young people can access education and pursue their aspirations.

During his presentation, he highlighted the risks associated with early marriage and adolescent pregnancies, which pose significant health risks for both mothers and children.

Mayxay emphasized the importance of comprehensive sexual education, access to reproductive health services, and legal reforms to address these issues and protect the rights of young girls.

He underscored the importance of promoting maternal and child health, including the need for nutritional education, prenatal care services, and support systems to address malnutrition and its adverse effects on maternal and child health outcomes.

Solutions he suggested involved holistic approaches encompassing education, healthcare, community support, and policy reforms, to empower young people and ensure their health and well-being.

Dr Usmonov Farrukh, interim Executive Director of AFPPD, reiterated AFPPD’s commitment to supporting parliamentarians’ advocacy on population and development in the Asia-Pacific in his closing speech, emphasizing collective action and partnership.

Vongphachanh’s closing remarks summed up the priorities agreed to in the meeting of the 14 National Commitments at the first National Conference on Population and Development, Demographic Change, held in 2023. She said opportunities, challenges, and policy levers to achieve demographic dividends, women’s empowerment and prevention and response to GBV and harmful practices, commitment to their programme of Family Planning 2030, and the health and future of the young population, particularly the resolutions for social issues they are facing such as drug use, school dropout, early marriage, and adolescent pregnancy, were crucial.

Note: This workshop was supported by AFPPD and APDA, the UNFPA, and the Japan Trust Fund.