VIENTIANE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today joined forces to work on an advocacy initiative to promote discussion and increase investment in adolescents in Lao PDR. The two organisations signed a joint letter of collaboration, formalizing a partnership around the “Noi 2030 Framework”.
‘Noi’ is a fictitious adolescent girl, created by UNFPA as an entry-point for dialogue on issues adolescent girls are facing in Lao PDR. Like all of us, ‘Noi’ dreams of getting a quality education, easy access to reproductive health services, employment and to take part in decision-making. ‘Noi’ represents all the 700,230 girls in the country aged 10-19 years old, and the initiative is supported by the Government and key development partners. The framework focuses on bringing attention to empowering adolescents, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Lao PDR has the highest proportion of early marriage and the highest adolescent birth rates in the region, and one in five adolescent girls drops out of school. This shows that adolescent girls are not yet receiving the necessary attention and investment to develop to their full potential, and have limited access to quality health, education and employment opportunities.
“More than 70 percent of WFP’s resources in Lao PDR are invested in ensuring children reach their full potential and have a better future,” said Ms. Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP Country Director in Lao PDR. “If we equip and empower girls today, they will be able to lead tomorrow with great impact on their families and communities, leading to sustainable and inclusive development in the country.”
UNFPA and WFP will work together to advocate and programme for improved access to nutrition, food security, education as well as reproductive health information and services for adolescent girls and boys.
“In order for Lao PDR to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must work together across different sectors to put ‘Noi’ at the centre of the development agenda,” said Ms. Frederika Meijer, UNFPA Representative in Lao PDR. “We need to address the issue of child marriage and early pregnancy. If these matters are not addressed, it will be difficult to achieve our common development goals.”
“By working together, all development partners’ unique expertise can be combined to best identify and address the needs of adolescent girls. Collaboration between WFP and UNFPA will be the first of many established to make sure that ‘Noi’ will be able to reach her full potential by 2030,” stated Ms. Meijer.
The signing of the joint letter marked the first successful inter-UN agency partnership for ‘Noi’, and aims to strengthen the partnership between the two UN agencies across various sectors, to highlight - and contribute to meeting - the multifaceted needs of adolescent girls in Lao PDR.
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UNFPA is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA supports sexual and reproductive health care and maternal health in over 150 countries, works to end harmful practices such as child marriage, and supports population data collection and analysis.
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