(KPL) As the pandemic continues, even though Laos  has managed to contain the number of cases, the impact of the pandemic and associated measures on health, wellbeing, security, social protection, environment and economy is profound.

Women and girls are amongst those impacted heavily in every aspect of their lives. 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 prevention of violence against women and girls including harmful practices.  

Recognising that the Sustainable Development Goals require partnerships, innovation and collaboration,  UNFPA has established partnerships with a range of private sector partners including Banque Franco Lao (BFL) and Crowne Plaza hotel. The partnerships focus on common sustainable development values and support to the Noi framework, which highlights amongst others the need to protect women and girls from violence and harmful practices such as child marriage, while ensuring basic rights such as adequate nutrition education are met.  

In this context, BFL and Crowne Plaza have generously donated to the COVID-19 response through in-kind contributions consisting of hygiene and dignity items as well as essential food supplies. Donations estimated at LAK 30 million from Crowne Plaza and LAK 4.4 million from BFL were delivered to the protection shelter run by Lao Women’s Union.

I am very pleased to welcome the support from private sector, especially from Crowne Plaza and BFL. This support reaches beneficiaries directly, thank you UNFPA for this three way partnership, said Bandith Phathoumvanh, a vice president of LWU.

Gains fulfilled 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 counseling services are being seen.  

Preliminary data from the Protection Center for Women and Children of LWU indicates that in comparison with 2019, there is increase in cases of domestic violence, child sexual abuse; decrease in access to balanced nutrition and increase in burden of care and unpaid household work for women and girls.

This type of partnership and collaboration with the private sector is essential for accelerated delivery of our common goals and for the protection of the rights of women and girls, said Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative.

During the handover ceremony, Ms. Patria Puyat, General Manager of Crowne Plaza said that the Hotel will explore with UNFPA and LWU how to support the center in skills enhancement to empower girls and women in the future.

While Thomas Courreges, Head of Marketing and Communication at BFL, said that the support to Lao Women’s Union is just the beginning, we will continue to support financial literacy training for women and especially adolescent girls.

KPL