Noi and all adolescent girls in Lao PDR taking center stage on the International Day of the Girl Child
11 October 2019
Participants from line ministries, the UN system in Laos, international NGOs, civil society organizations (CSOs) shared the achievements made and proposed next steps to address the remaining challenges in line with the national context. Young people also participated in the event and shared their views and inspiring actions.
This year marks the third anniversary of the 2030 Noi Framework, a road map for the government and partners to work together on empowerment of Lao girls aged 10-19 so that they will unleash their full potential by 2030. A common name for young girls in Laos, Noi, representing all girls in Laos, has been under the spotlights since her creation in 2016.
The Lao PDR is home to 7.1 million people, with 58% per cent under the age of 25 years old. Among them, over 700,000 are girls aged 10-19. While still being a Least Developed Country (LDC), Lao PDR has achieved high economic growth with over 7 percent in recent years. However, Lao girls represented by Noi are among those left behind in terms of equitable access to health, education, employment and other opportunities. Their vulnerabilities are evident with Laos having the highest proportion of early marriage and the highest adolescent birth rate in the region.
The 2030 Noi Framework provides a platform for partners to address challenges Lao girls face in education, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, employment and gender equality, as well as their opportunities to participate in decisions that matter to them. Tracking indicators in these areas, partners will work together to ensure young girls today grow up to be productive citizens living fulfilling lives by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) .
Speaking at the event, H.E. Dr. Bounkong Sihavong, Minister of Health acknowledged the Noi 2030 Framework as an effective multi-sectoral mechanism for multiple partners to focus on adolescent girls from different perspectives.
“We need to further enhance partnerships at national and provincial levels to ensure a conducive environment for Noi and all adolescent girls as we strive to achieve the SDGs,” said the Minister.
Representatives from the relevant working groups of the 2030 Noi Framework shared progresses achieved since the creation of Noi in 2016. The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sports, Lao Women’s Union and Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare updated concrete achievements in advancing SDGs targets on Zero Hunger, Inclusive and Quality Education, Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls and Decent Work and Economic Growth. In addition, the Ministry of Planning and Investment updated the process of developing the next national five-year plan (9th NSEDP). The partners reinforced the consensus that ensuring greater investments on adolescent girls is the right path for Laos to reap the demographic dividends in its quest for sustainable development.
Ms. Mariam Khan, the United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. and UNFPA Representative in Laos, shared her passion on supporting adolescent girls. She said:
“Like all of us, Noi dreams to go to school, to grow up healthy, to get a fulfilling job and to take part in decisions that matter to her. The 2030 Noi Framework unites us to help Noi to realize her dreams.”
She expressed her heart-felt thanks to the national government for the strong support on rolling out the 2030 Noi Framework. She also expressed appreciation to the new partnerships UNFPA has established with the private sector, media and CSOs to support Noi and other initiatives in 2019, the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) and 50th anniversary of UNFPA.
The expansion of partnership has led to innovations in implementing the 2030 Noi Framework. Partnering with Centre for Communication and Education on Health of the Ministry of Health and tapping into the technological advances, the Noi-Yakhoo Mobile Application was introduced at the event as a one-stop source for youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health, gender and life skill information. The Noi-Yakhoo App makes the full package of messages available at the fingertips of young people using mobile phones with internet connections. At the event, the Vientiane Youth Center volunteers received the first batch of tablets with the Noi-Yakhoo App, a new tool to reach out to their peers effectively.
Led by UNFPA, MOH and a number of new partners, including China Radio International Lao Branch (CRI Lao), Sinouk Coffee and Banque Franco-Lao (BFL), the recently launched Me, My Body, My Planet, My Future social media campaign presents another innovative way of engaging young people. The campaign harnesses the power of social media to inspire young people to take positive actions on health, gender, environment and broad sustainable development issues in Laos.
Apart from the main event, young people in Laos have led a number of small scale celebrations around the International Day of the Girl Child. Taking various forms such as community clean-up, tree planting, debating and role playing, they have demonstrated creativity and leadership roles in safeguarding the planet and making informed choices on health and well-being.
Reviewing progresses made and remaining challenges, partners, including young people themselves, have renewed their commitments on the 2030 Noi Framework. With stronger synergies and support from all parties, adolescent girls represented by Noi will continue to be at the center stage of development in Laos.