What challenges do girls face in Laos today?

October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child. Too often, girls’  rights are not respected. In Laos, more girls have a better support system than ever before with the government launching several measures to improve the situation.  There is a greater focus on education, and girls are being encouraged to have flourishing careers. However, there is still more to be done.
Vientiane Times spoke to folk about what more could be done to support Lao girls for a better future.


Ms Paya, a student at the National University of Laos: I think some Lao girls are blindly aping the culture of other nations – giving a miss to their own rich culture and heritage, which is represented through their dressing styles and the choice of language. I know Laos is opening up to other nations and sharing its own experiences with the world. However, it would be good if we could decipher which is the best takeaway from another nation, and ask if fits into our culture? We should borrow only the good and leave the rest which will bring a bad name to our society. If possible, all sectors should work together for the preservation of our culture and should launch a campaign to make young girls aware of Laos’ traditional cultures. They should also be taught to stand up for their rights

Ms Bounmy Phanthanaid, a businesswoman in Chanthabouly district: I think Lao girls are being encouraged to lead independent lives and are actively working to meet their goals which will help in nation-building. They have access to ample educational opportunities which are opening up fantastic career avenues for them. Lao girls are trying to improve their skill-sets and for which there are several scholarships on offer – both local and international. They are walking shoulder to shoulder with men. However, the school drop out rates are high among less privileged sections of the society, and this problem needs to be addressed. The government should step in and remove this impediment.

Ms Bang Phommalay, a student in Xieng Khuang province: Girls in the rural areas of the country need to be pushed so that they fare better. Most of the time their parents do not have the money to send them to school. They may face violence at the hands of their parents or later by husbands. I think women still haven’t got the respect they deserve and this situation needs urgent attention. I would urge the relevant sectors to initiate campaigns to bolster support for the girls and to condemn the rampant violence against women and children. Stress should be given to educating all girls as I think it is the key to an independent voice in life. We should all work towards this goal.

Mr Phompaserth, a resident in Xaythany district: In the past some villages would not encourage girls to pursue higher studies as our ancestors believed that girls should stay at home and care for their parents, and later their husbands and children. I want to thank the government and international organisations for supporting and promoting the growth of Lao girls, for offering them a chance to topple the power equations. Now girls can work in many sectors and enjoy the same rights as men. However, Lao girls have a long way to go with cases of human trafficking still coming to light. Vulnerable young girls and women who fall in the hands of such people are too often trampled upon. They should be made aware of such gangs in operation so that these women are saved from being cheated.

Ms Soudchai Lorsorsininthamoungkhoun, a student in Vientiane province: I think Lao girls have far more support than earlier – yet what they have is not enough. I think some sectors are still biased and do not consider hiring women employees seriously. I want to call on such industries to support girls. They should also be offered short-term training courses to help secure opportunities. Such additional training skills will help them enhance their incomes. I also think there should be special health schemes catering to women’s needs as these programmes will help not only them but also their families.

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update October 10, 2018)

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