The ‘Project Steering Committee Meeting on National Rural Employment Strategy in the Lao PDR - Towards Increasing Opportunities for Decent and Productive Employment in Rural Areas’ was attended by Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and committee member, Mrs Baykham Khattiya, Representative of International Labour Organisation (ILO), Ms Joni Simpson along with labour officials from the target provinces and ministry.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mrs Baykham highlighted the importance of the meeting in the project’s lifecycle while thanking the Swiss Government and people for their support.
Participants heard the National Rural Employment Strategy formulation is a major milestone and a key means for setting the path to a brighter future of work for women and men in rural areas. To realise this ambition will require significant partnerships and collaboration across numerous stakeholders.
“We should identify further, practical opportunities to enhance the project’s delivery towards gender equality and diversity inclusion and make sure that all women and men benefit equitably from the returns. In this project, we can do this by integrating gender concerns across all actions,” Mrs Baykham said.
The meeting identified the project’s medium-term progress such as the new market linkages developing between farmers and companies, the enhanced capacities of line agencies to support rural women and men to find or generate economic opportunities, as well as the establishment of improved training programmes and better employment services.
Ms Simpson noted the need to understand project obstacles and how the partnership could overcome them while examining the recommendations from the mid-term evaluation.
“While gender gaps in labour force participation are quite narrow in Laos the quality of work remains a challenge for most women. One of the main barriers to gender equality is that women are responsible for the bulk of unpaid care responsibilities,” Ms Joni Simpson added.
She explained that evidence was available to show the benefits of diversity in decision-making spaces on all levels contributing to higher productivity and more adapted solutions to complex problems both in the workplace and community.