9.In order to prevent unsafe abortions, the following measures will be implemented:
(a)The Maternal Mortality Monitoring Committee shall assess the conditions of the women who received treatment, abortion, and maternal mortality;
(b)Continue to implement the Decree on Free Childbirth Subsidies for the 17 provinces covered by the health insurance fund;
(c)Enforce medical laws to strictly prohibit abortion;
(d)Complete the draft Decree on Surrogacy and Abortion;
(e)Continue to implement the National Strategy and Action Plan for Health Services with the integration of reproductive health, mothers’, new-born and children’s health;
(f)Continue to use the handbook on prevention and treatment of unsafe-abortion related complications for the health providers and the manual for youth-friendly health services, a national handbook on youth-friendly services, and the pedagogical of youth-friendly health services.
10.According to the Concluding Observations paragraph 46 (a), the Committee recommends the State Party to implement measures, including temporary special measures, to increase access for rural women to education, health, competitive markets, and income-generating activities, including by integrating a provision into the national rural employment strategy for support to young rural women, women heads of household and women with disabilities.
11.The Government of the Lao PDR has adopted the following measures:
(a)The Law on Allocation of Settlement and Occupation, number 45/NA, dated 15 June 2018. This law guarantees for the Lao multi-ethnic people living in the allocated area to have adequate shelter, productive land, and stable employment with an aim to end illegal migration, poverty alleviation, improve the livelihood of the Lao multi-ethnic people;
(b)Adopted the Decree on Lifelong Learning, number 208/GOV, dated 23 March 2020. This is a policy for both men and women to have opportunities in accessing education and enhancing their levels, both in and outside of schools;
(c)Continued to implement projects to enhance education quality in 40 remote districts, in connection with the 3 builds initiative;
(d)Continue to implement health insurance for the poor, which covers women with disabilities and disadvantaged throughout the country;
(e)Adopted the Decree on the Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises, number 299/GOV, dated 4 September 2019. It was adopted for the purpose of providing support for SMEs’ growth, increasing production, trade, and services. The Government provides funding for respective periods in the form of credit loans through commercial banks or other financial institutions for SMEs, with a maximum interest rate of 3 per cent;
(f)Integrated women’s rights into the 6 key priorities of the National Strategy on Rural Employment;
(g)Disseminated on sex education for the population aged 15 and above, especially on protection against HIV-AIDS, create and train more midwives, pregnancy caregivers and nurses especially for community health centres, disseminate on family planning, implement the policy on free-of-charge childbirth and medical treatment for children under the age of 5 years old, especially for women in rural and remote areas, create multiple advertising tools as appropriate for target groups on caring for mothers and children, vaccination, family planning, prevention of premature pregnancy, protection against STDs, integrating combatting of AIDS into the curriculums of the schools, universities and various medical education institutions, create manuals on quality treatment standards, access to health insurance, upholding quality treatment services by implementing the 5 goods and 1 satisfaction initiative, and aimed at implementing the National Strategy and Action Plan for service with integration of sexual health, mothers, infants and children and strategy on nutrition and comprehensive data system (DHIS2).
12.The implementation of the existing measures, special temporary measures, and new measures have contributed to rural women’s access to education, health treatment, employment, and income generating activities, as follows:
(a)The rate of school enrolment across the 40 districts in poverty has increased, especially in 2019: gross rate of enrolment of children at the age of 5, the net rate of enrolment for primary school, rate of lower-secondary school completion, and gross rate of upper-secondary school enrolment;
(b)Citizens who were illiterate, disadvantaged and dropped-out from schools have received continuous education support schemes to complete primary and lower secondary education level across the country, with significant delivery rate:
•Illiterate citizens in the age group between 15-40 years old have received additional learning and 5,924 people have completed primary education, accounting for 40.51 per cent of the targeted 14,624 people, out of whom 3,029 were women or 44.74 per cent of the target 6,770 people;
•Citizens in poverty and disadvantaged in terms of education in the age group of 6-14 have received additional continuous education and completed primary education in a total of 1,765 people, of whom 830 or 47.02 per cent were female;
•Citizens in the target age group of 15-35 who were disadvantaged and dropped-out of school and did not complete lower secondary education have received additional continuous education in a total of 16,387 people or 94.03 per cent of the 17,427 target persons, of whom 7,351 were female and achieved 100 per cent of the target;
•Women in poverty and disadvantaged especially rural women, women who were heads of households, and women with disabilities can access health services in the 2018–2020 period: the number of women who receive free-of-charge pre‑natal and after birth check-ups, and childbirth services was 474,976 persons/year;
•Mothers’ mortality rate was 119 deaths in 2018 and 113 deaths in 2019;
•6,042 married couples have received contraceptive implants (regulars), 1,908 received intrauterine devices (IUD), and 17,911 condoms in 2019. 1,463 female sterilization has been performed and 302,135 birth control injections were administered;
(c)Organized vocational and 3 months short-term vocational trainings for women on cooking, textile, and beauty services for 200 women trainees, of whom 132 went on to take up professions and enterprises as follows:
•Open food or dessert stalls, open small restaurants, become kitchen assistance at various restaurants and hotels;
•Used their textile and knitting techniques to work from home, set up small textile shops, or become workers at textile factories;
•Opened small and medium sized beauty salons or become beauty assistance and also provide mobile beauty services;
•Become staff of the Lao Women’s Union at provinces and districts as trainers or other roles;
(d)Young women, women who were heads of households, and women with disabilities have received short-term vocational training:
•In the industrial sector including designing and colour-dying of Lao traditional cloth-weaving, textiles, pottery and crafts, water processing, welding and moulding, electricity instalment and wiring, water production, electric utilities-refrigeration repairs, construction, carpentry and furniture making, and cattle farming;
•In the agriculture sector, they were trained on rubber plantation, seedling selection, selection of fruit strain selection techniques, how to grow mushrooms, how to grow grass for animal feeding, raise goats, raise chicken, how to keep frogs and catfish, sapling techniques, cattle raising, pig farming, learned combined techniques of plantation-livestock-weeding and crop protection;
•The service sector has provided training to help rural women develop vocational skills and have more career options or jobs to generate more income;
(e)Training on farming techniques: tamarinds, tea, coffee, corn, tapioca; chicken, pigs, goats, cows and fish farms for 11,540 groups from 853,075 persons, of whom 420,864 or 49 per cent were female. Up to the present, 1,018,808 farmers in poverty and disadvantaged are now able to access crops plantation and livestock, of whom 837,521 or 45 per cent were female;
(f)There are 35 out of 102 business units with the One District One Product (ODOP) scheme that are owned by women;
(g)Training on marketing for those in the crafts production business reached 1.290 participants enabled them to better understand identify investment opportunities, market research and new innovations in conducting business;
(h)Providing Funds and loans through commercial and micro financing institutions:
•Women have received credits from commercial banks (in a total of 16,59 billion Kips covering 22,04 per cent of the total credits issued;
•Women who received credits through micro-financing institutions that take deposits in a total of 22,411 cases, a total of 300,2 billion Kips or 28,43 per cent;
•Women who received credit through micro-financing institutions that do not take cash deposits, in a total of 11.895 cases, a total amount of 87,76 billion Kips or 45,38 per cent;
•Women who received credits from collectives of credit and savings in a total of 3.839 cases, a total amount of 35,64 billion Kips or 38,34 per cent;
•Women who received credit from micro-financing institutions established specifically manage by LWU in a total of 3.266 cases or amount of 76.472.350.000 Kips;
(i)Young women, women who are heads of households, and women with disabilities in rural areas have received employment through government agency in a total of 3.566 persons, of which 1.230 were in the agriculture and forestry sector, 945 in the industrial sector, and 1.391 persons in the service sector;
(j)During 2019–2020, encourages people with disabilities to receive training and employment through social participation programs and income-generating activities for people with disabilities, enabling rural women to be trained and engaged in raising frogs, raising fish, and growing mushrooms in Oudomxay and Xaignabouli provinces. The Disability Employment Project in Houaphanh Province has trained women with disabilities in gardening and caring for sakura trees, making cookies, making cafes, small-scale handicrafts and beauty salons.
13.Despite having made considerable progress, the Lao PDR acknowledges that it remains one of the least developed countries at the lower-middle income level. The road and transportation condition is still not accessible all-year-round for the rural areas, the majority of the population comprise of multi-ethnic people with relatively high poverty rate, the outdated perspectives are still a part of Lao society, added with budgetary constraints and less than optimal data collection system, these are the main challenges that the country continues to face.
14.COVID-19 pandemic and repeated natural disasters have both, directly and indirectly, impacted the Lao PDR’s socio-economic development efforts, leaving many targets unreached in general, more specifically, the action plans, projects, activities, and attracting funding from the international community in relation to the advancement of women, gender equality, and implementing our international obligation under the CEDAW have had to be left incomplete.
15.Premature sexual intercourse has become more common and on the rise. Currently, 18 per cent of adolescent girls have their first sexual intercourse before the age of 15, and 32.8 per cent before the age of 18. There are 23.5 per cent of married adolescent girls aged 15-19 who do not have access to modern family planning services.