Gender, Advocacy and Disability Inclusion
ChildFund Laos has in recent years been strengthening efforts to improve its inclusivity, particularly by improving its work on gender and disability to ensure that all women, men, girls, boys, and people of other genders with and without disabilities can fully benefit from ChildFund project interventions. In order to ensure that the most vulnerable are not only reached, but also empowered by ChildFund activities in their communities, ChildFund is in the process of developing a comprehensive inclusion plan and a Country Strategic Plan for 2021-2026 that will set out a roadmap towards achieving programming that is more effective and more accessible to all.
In the future, ChildFund Laos hopes to focus on building its knowledge, capacity, policies, and practices so that it can improve its inclusion of vulnerable groups through a multi-faceted approach. This would include developing internal strengths at the organisational level (including having an inclusion budget and relevant human resources), internal and external learning on gender and disability, improved mainstreaming of inclusion issues into project work during all phases of the project cycle, gender- and disability-sensitive monitoring and evaluation practices, improved organisational communications on inclusion topics, and special initiatives to improve the situations of people with disabilities in ChildFund target communities.
Some of ChildFund Laos’ key actions on the topics of gender and disability up until the present can be found below:
- Sexual and reproductive health education in the Tune-in and Ready for Life Projects: (begun 2017) The Tune-in Project, which was later combined into the Ready for Life project, focused on educating youth about sexual and reproductive health; the Tune In project focused on spreading this information via radio, while the Ready for Life project includes the sexual and reproductive health content in its peer-to-peer curriculum for youth trainers.
- Promotion of gender equality through the SCALING Consortium Project: The EU-funded SCALING project in Xamneua has strong gender integration in its activities, primarily developed by CARE. These include village savings and loans associations for women and trainings in women’s leadership and women’s workload reduction for women and their husbands.
- ChildFund Laos Gender Assessment: Examination of ChildFund’s gender work internally, at the organisational level, and externally, at the program level; included a desk review, a survey of all staff, and focus group discussions at each office.
- Regional Gender Analysis Workshop: ChildFund Laos hosted an internal workshop among the ChildFund country offices in Vientiane Capital. The purpose of the workshop is to strengthen staff capacity on Gender Mainstreaming and Integration and to develop an action plan for promoting gender equality and equity in ChildFund Programs. There were representatives from ChildFund Country Offices including ChildFund Australia, ChildFund Myanmar, ChildFund Korea and ChildFund Laos attending this workshop.
- Situation analysis and needs assessment of children with disabilities in Xiengkhouang and Huaphanh: Research was conducted on children with disabilities in Xiengkhouang (Nonghet & Khoun Districts) and Huaphanh (Huameuang & Xamneua Districts) to better understand the current situation of children with disabilities living in ChildFund target areas, as well as the challenges those children face and potential interventions that could improve their situation.
- Training from Humanity & Inclusion: HI provided a training on disability rights and inclusive education for the SABEL education team in Huameuang District that involved ChildFund staff, as well as partners, such as teachers in target villages and district education representatives.
- Increasing Participation of Ethnic Girls (IPEG) Project in Huameuang District: Similar to the BEIF project, IPEG aimed to promote participation of ethnic girls in secondary education through building literacy and teaching a life skills curriculum; however, as a result of community resistance to involving only girls, boys and girls participated equally.
- Wheelchairs for Kids wheelchair distribution in Xiengkhouang and Huaphanh: ChildFund staff and partners from Wheelchairs for Kids evaluated children in Nonghet District, Xiengkhouang Province (18 children) and Huameuang and Xamneua Districts, Houaphanh Province (8 children and 7 children, respectively) on their wheelchair needs, then distributed the wheelchairs to the children and trained their families in adjusting and repairing the chairs.
- Training on disability rights through the ECE project: Project staff, teachers, and community assistants in the five target villages of the Early Childhood Education project in Huameuang District received training conducted by trainers from the Sikeud Vocational School for the Disabled in Vientiane.
- BEIF Ethnic Girl Project in Khoun District: Project aiming to increase the participation of ethnic minority girls in lower secondary education by improving literacy skills, building self-confidence, and promoting parental support.
- Improving Gender Equality and Livelihood Security (GELS) in Nonghet: This project aimed to improve livelihoods by promoting women’s ability to start their own livelihood initiatives and increasing gender equality among households participating in project activities.
- Baseline study on gender inequality in Nonghet and staff training: Research was done with groups of women in various villages across Nonghet District examining their roles in the family and community. The results showed that in general, women were responsible for all their families’ housework as well as working in the fields, and that most women deferred to their husbands in family life and decision making. This evaluation was followed by a gender training for all ChildFund staff.
- Survey of people with disabilities in Nonghet District: A survey was carried out to collect demographic information on all people with disabilities (both children and adults) in 14 of ChildFund’s 27 target villages.